People often ask me where I find the time to actually do any writing. You see I have to work, (although it’s only part-time, it’s still 4 days a week) and I have to drop off and pick up my son from school. I also help run Chindi, a group of independently published authors from the Chichester area. So, unlike established best-selling authors such as Kate Mosse, who sets herself what sounds like a gruelling writing regime, rising at 3.30am in the morning to do a stint that can last 7 or 8 hours, I have to fit my writing in around my other daily commitments. However, unlike traditionally published authors, I do not have publishers breathing down my neck or deadlines to keep other than those I give myself and they can always move – and they do.
I think some people assume that when you write a book, you sit down one day, quite out of the blue and extra-ordinary to anything you would normally do, and ‘decide’ that you are now going to write that novel that has been burning away inside you all these years. I’m afraid it is not like that at all. Writing is a part of my life. I do it. And the more I do it the better I become, like any athlete or pianist or painter. Writing every day, I am doing my scales and practising new strokes with my brushes. It is like throwing a clay pot, it’s a skill you learn. It wobbles a lot and you have to have a steady hand, but eventually, by keeping the wheel spinning, your hands wet and your fingers steady, something rather marvellous begins to take shape. It doesn’t happen at one sitting and it can take years, especially, if like me your genre is historical fiction, which by definition takes an inordinate amount of research time as well as the physical writing.
A rough outline of my week might look like this – I drop my son at school and return home to go through my social media. Then it’s off to work. I finish at 3pm so in the time before I collect said son from school, I answer my emails. Once we’re back home I’ll spend about an hour on Chindi stuff. After tea I’ll be glued to the keyboard for another couple of hours, editing and writing, but by 9pm I’m flagging, so I relax in front of the telly, but still dib in and out of Twitter and FB on my phone.
I don’t work on Wednesdays so that and the weekend are my hard core writing days. Generally I can only write for a two hour period before I have to do something else. Even if it’s just going for a walk I have to let my brain have a rest and allow my mind to wonder. I might do 3 or 4 hours writing on each of those days. I do not set myself targets or word counts to adhere to, that would be too painful.
So the answer to the question ‘how do you find time to write’ – in a way you don’t, it is just a part of your life. I don’t think about finding the time; that time is available to me when I’m not doing the other stuff, that’s all. If you really want to write you will, just like a painter has to paint or a musician has to play, you do it, it happens and that’s the magic of it.