It took me about a year to write The Last Confession of the Vampire Judas Iscariot. Actually, if you count the time from the day I wrote the first paragraph on my Blackberry while standing in line at the supermarket checkout it was probably even longer than that. After that year I began to understand why the creative process is considered so tumultuous. There are moments of pure adrenaline, where you fingers can’t seem to type fast enough to the images racing through your head. Followed by periods of waiting, tapping the keys, not hard enough that letters appear on the screen but just lightly to hear the tip-tip-tip noise in the otherwise silent room. Sometimes knowing what you want the characters to do but unable to find the right words to get them to do it in the right way, for the right reason, with the right style.
I’m a husband, a father and an attorney. I have pretty full days. I work at least nine to six. I traveled for work. I’d have depositions and hearings. Preparing usually meant reading a binder of medical records roughly the thickness of four telephone books.
I have four kids, all of whom are pretty involved in sports, but not just any sport, my three sons all play hockey for fairly high level travel teams. Most nights after work if I wasn’t driving the carpool to the rink, then I was driving it home. Oh, and my three sons played on three different teams that practiced at at least two different rinks. On early nights, practice ended at 8:30 pm and we could make it home by nine. Sometimes we had the late practice and we would walk through the door at ten.
But I don’t mean to say that I am the only person around who is busy. Or even that I am so much busier than the next person. What I want to point out is that no matter how busy you are you can still find time to follow you passion. For me, that was writing but for someone else it could be golf, or video games, or cooking or anything else. We all do this a little. We all steal time back from the responsibilities of the day. Whether it’s checking the baseball score on-line while at work, or reading after the kids go to bed, or getting up early on a Saturday to hit golf balls at the range before taking your kid to cub scouts. We all find a little extra time here and there.
For me, once I started writing The Last Confession of the Vampire Judas Iscariot, the only difference is that I stole those moments back systematically. I stole every moment I could back for this one purpose. Instead of chit chatting with the other parents while the kids were skating at practice, I wrote. Instead of reading the news on the internet while I was waiting for a flight, I wrote. If I had a great thought, a perfect way of phrasing some part of the narrative while we were out at dinner, I wrote it on my phone and emailed it to myself so later I could cut and paste it into the manuscript. When we didn’t have practice I wrote after work at night before watching TV. I tried to write a page or so every time I sat down. Sometimes that would take ten minutes and sometimes it would take an hour but I stayed as long as I could until the responsibilities of the everyday intruded. But I came back again and again.
Soon it got easier. Not the writing per se – that was always easy and challenging at the same time, but the taking the time to write got easier because each time I would remember before I started that I after I finished I felt better. I felt like I had accomplished something. It was a surprising revelation. To have such busy days but seldom feeling like you accomplished anything. Writing became a goal each day. To write some part of the narrative, a page, a paragraph, even the outline of the next steps in the story, to accomplish something that day, that is what I wanted.
The metaphor is simple and obvious, it’s like exercise. You don’t want to do it but you know you will feel better after if you do. It’s summed up perfectly in the tag line, “Just do it.” So whatever “it” is, just do it, today, tomorrow and the next. If you love it, find time for it – make time for it. Do it over and over until it becomes habitual and fairly soon you’ll have accomplished what once seems unlikely.