I know the writing life I ideally want.
I also know the one I have is intense and sometimes unhelpful and overall unforgiving. I used to wake up at about 4:30am and write until I’d leave for work. But now the kids wake earlier and this doesn’t seem as productive a time. Plus, getting up that early wouldn’t gel with how late I go to bed now. I usually stumble into bed about midnight, or after, and I do this because I take the 8-12 shift at night in the house. If any kid stirs, I’m Action Jackson on the scene to put the sleeper hold on and return the house to silence.
I take this shift so my wife can sleep because she inevitably takes the 12-4 shift which can get pretty hairy. My shift might be on average 2-4 skirmishes a night. Sometimes none (thank a lord) and a few times like 8-10 soul crushing walks to the kid’s door and then the wrestle for their sleep and my sanity begins.
So, 8-12 every night, that’s my kid shift and that’s my writing time. The house is quiet, at times, and I can work. Oh, that’s if I shunt the wife into bed instantly without any personal time to, y’know, keep the marriage alive at all. Sometimes the wife and I chat, sometimes we just appreciate the company of another breathing body that’s not crying (externally) for half an hour while reality tv dulls our senses for those precious moments.
That means sometimes I don’t even get the four hours of my shift to write. I might chill with the wife and only get 3 hours, some nights.
And if you are thinking I get those 4 hours from a 4 hour shift then you’re dreaming. I think you could safely wipe away a third of each night in my sessions in the baby sleep octagon. I’d wager, most nights, email aside, and a quick toast stop slowing things down, I’m getting maybe a lick over 2 solid writing hours a night. And that’s it. I get sporadic pockets of time around these but otherwise this is my writing schedule.
Wake, breakfast, shower, day job, home, play, dinner, showers, bedtime routine, night shift. Repeat.
This is what I have, and it’s what I work with, and it’s better than nothing. Hell, with the laser focus parenting has given me, I’m possibly doing 7 hours a night in those 2 hours. Possibly…
To add to this, I also try to sneak a little phone writing in here or there. Currently pacing with the sleeping daughter on the shoulder right now as I thumb type into notes. I do posts, press, and loose story stuff here. Sometimes real scripting if a great scene comes to me but nothing too hard. These moments can be found anywhere and will be seized, or sometimes just used to chat on twitter or get inspirado juice on tumblr.
There’s no way I could sustain great things with 2-4 hours a night. I’m getting by with my little works, though sometimes only just, but I wouldn’t want to test the relationship. In fact, I recently turned down a gig because I knew I couldn’t deliver with the orientation of my world like this. So;
What’s My Dream Writing Schedule?
Man, well, it’s obviously a full time gig, right? That’s the dream. I want to make money off my comics but only so it’s enough to keep me writing. I don’t need to buy that cruise ocean liner we all dream about because all I’d do on that ship was access wifi and write, y’know?
So, with my full day of writing, man, I’d be able to kill it. Here are the things I’d be fitting into let’s say a 9-4 writing day.
Read 3 comics.
Write 3-5 solid pages – and I mean solid.
Edit a little on other stuff
Weedwhack that inbox into shape.
Watch one episode of tv with lunch.
Go for a walk/run.
Prep future projects: research, story break.
That’s all I’m asking. It’s nothing insane, I don’t think, and maybe one day I’ll get close. I think with this schedule I’d be able to stay on top of a fair bit of writing and really make more ground than I have so far. And then I imagine a time when my nights are used for family time only – playing board games, actually watching full movies in one go, and not feeling like every waking minute needs to be used. And as for sleep, well, damn, who knows what I’d manage.
For now, I’m still stupidly happy with my children who make up my adorable family. I’m honored I get to devote any time to this dream of writing comics that actual other people from around the world read. And I’m making the most of what I have. I’m not waiting for the perfect writing schedule to appear before I start, I work with what I have because that’s how you get stuff done.
I’d love to know your writing schedule, be it morning, lunch breaks only, or you live off your parents and write all day between bouts of furious self-pleasure. I find writing schedules a fascinating part of the process so feel free to drop your on me.