Episode 36: Making Sacrifices for Your Writing
Episode 36 has JT talking about some of the sacrifices we make in order to write more. Things like sleep and healthy eating habits. We also discuss why this isn’t always a bad thing and offer a few suggestions to help make these sacrifices a bit better. JT also stresses the importance of family time and self-care.
You can listen to the episode right here. The transcription is below the player. Feel free to add your comments using the comment section below.
Episode 36 Transcript
Note: Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and humans, as such, it may contain errors. Please, double-check the audio file before quoting anything from this page.
00:00 [JT Pledger] Greetings, kids! Today I want to talk about sacrifice. No, I don’t mean giving up to the lord of darkness or anything weird like that. We aren’t slaughtering goats here. No, I am talking about the things you give up for, and because of, your writing. It should be an interesting show, stick around.
00:45 [JT] As a writer, it is a given that there will be things that we give up. A social life jumps to mind. We network through the computer mainly, and a few of us even venture outside once in a while. But what is it that we are really giving up? Is our sacrifice worth it?
01:10 I will tell you right off the bat that as a writer, it is worth it. You must maintain a balance, and we will get into that shortly. However, the sacrifices we do make for our words, characters, and novels is worth it. Even if it isn’t visible to anyone else, it is motivating and empowering for us.
Some Examples of Sacrifices Made for Writing
01:34 So, what do we give up? One of the first things we give up is sleep. After a long day at work and getting the house situated or cooking dinner, we want to relax. Most people will plop in front of the television, or play games on their phones. You might help the kids with homework, or start prepping for your bedtime routine.
02:00 A writer, though, has to make the time to write. If that means staying up late after everyone else is asleep, that’s what we do. If we have to set the alarm an hour or two early to get up and write before the day starts, that’s what we do.
02:22 Sleep is a commodity that writer’s seldom get to enjoy to the fullest. It is self-sacrifice unless we are on a deadline. It is also something we do willingly. We know coffee, tea or other caffeine sources are there waiting to help us push through and we chug along at the keyboard through yawns and long stretches.
From Sleeping to Eating
02:48 We also give up eating right. This isn’t an all the time thing, but when we are having our writing bouts and things are plugging along, the last thing we want to do is stop and cook a healthy meal. Enter chips and soda. I noticed myself doing this for the longest time and every time I got a rumble in my tummy, I would reach for the snack shelf. Beef jerky, donuts, chips, and dip. You name it, if I could grab and eat without the need for a plate, oven or microwave, I did it.
03:26 As I began to realize what I was doing, I stopped buying as much (no, I’ll never quit buying junk food). I opted for nuts, carrot sticks and broccoli with ranch to dip them in. I also buy a lot of yogurt.
03:46 It still isn’t a healthy portion and not the most well-rounded meal. But it is a step in the right direction. Writing is a sedentary job and while our fingers and forearms are strong as an ox, our midsections and buttocks may be getting a bit soggy.
Going into the Outernet? Not a Sacrifice for me!
04:08 Socializing is another thing that goes by the wayside when we get into our projects. “Sorry, Karen, I can’t go out tonight, I have to murder a new character.” “Oh shit, Steven, was the ball game tonight? I completely forgot. I won’t be able to make it, you see, I just wrecked a school bus and I have 37 kids to tend to.”
04:33 After a while, our friends and family learn that we say maybe we will go just to be polite. It isn’t going to happen. PTA meetings and teacher meet-and-greets will happen, but we will probably show up late and leave early.
Not ALL Writers are This Way
04:53 Now, all of this isn’t true for everyone. Some of us do get up every hour and walk around the block. Other writers do stop with an egg timer and make a healthy meal or make sure all planned events are scheduled and attended.
05:14 Even with these folks, though, I will promise you the last thing on their mind is whatever they are doing. Their brains are back home, working on that plot hole patch, or trying to figure out how they will get their protagonist out of the current situation they put them in an hour ago.
What About Work-Life?
05:35 Sometimes, our work life will suffer. This is especially true if you have a job you aren’t particularly fond of. Writing is a form of escape. Instead of daydreaming from the cubicle, writers will open their projects and at least look busy while not working.
05:56 If this is you, be careful. In today’s world, a career in writing won’t pay the bills. Until you have a few #1 bestsellers under your belt and a contract for a few more, you will most likely need to keep your job.
Maybe We ARE Crazy
06:15 From the outside looking in, it may seem that writers have sacrificed their sanity. To some extent, we may have. We walk around talking to people that aren’t there. Our characters demand near-constant attention until their stories are told. We walk around taking a break or going to the store for some much-needed groceries, and the whole time we talk to our creations.
06:41 Eventually, with enough practice, the inner dialogues turn into external ones. You may get a few weird looks while pumping gas at the corner store, but your story benefits. Besides, when the cashier eventually recognizes you from the back cover of their new favorite book, all will be forgiven (or at least explained).
Everything is Normal, Including You
07:04 The thing to remember is that you are fine. Everything you are doing, sacrificing and going through to push out that novel is just fine. You are normal. So go ahead and talk to yourself, out loud. Figure out that plot hole while you reach for the cream-filled pastry cake.
07:27 Whatever you need to do to get the words out of your head and onto paper in the correct order, to your satisfaction. The ability to feel the feeling when you type out “The End” is worth just about everything.
07:45 However, do not neglect your family. Do not forget to pick up your kids from daycare. And for the love of all that is holy, make sure you take some time once a week to call your mother.
Family is Number 1
08:02 The only thing (probably) more important than working out your novel is your family. Regardless of how understanding they are, and how much they tell you they are pushing for you and support your efforts, make sure you take time to be with them.
08:24 Self-care is important. Aside from taking time away from your project to spend time with the family, you need to take time for yourself. I have seen too many of my author friends begin to burn out, just because they need to work or have to finish. I, myself am a victim of this and I forget to stop some times.
Your Self-Care is not One of Your Sacrifices!
09:04 You need to step away from time to time. You need to go for a walk, get outside, clean your living room. Allowing your brain to rest for a day or two will improve your writing and help you stay excited about the novel. Otherwise, you will begin to see the work as a chore.
09:31 If you ever notice yourself sitting at your laptop and dreaming about being at work, you may have a problem.
09:40 I will leave you with that to ponder. Don’t forget to stop by the transcript page (the link is in the show notes) and leave a comment about your sacrifices. Have you given up something in order to write more? Do you have a self-care routine to help you stay on track? Tell us all about it in the comments on the website.
10:02 Until next week, have fun; write words.