Friday, April 22, 2011

Sacrifice

Not like animal sacrifice or anything. But I went to New York City last week (as if you didn't know) and I was answering some questions on video, when something I said snagged in my mind. I can't really remember what the question was, and I didn't prepare answers so that everything would feel fresh and spontaneous. But I've been thinking about sacrifice ever since.

As writers, we have to sacrifice in order to find time to write. Sure, there are some people out there who can write full time (I sort of hate them in my love-hate way). But most of us have to juggle the many facets of our lives. Work, spouse, dinner, holidays, kids, and writing.

How does an author do that?

Sacrifice.

Something has to give. So what do you sacrifice so you can write? Is it worth it?

46 comments:

Theresa Milstein said...

Elana, I noticed a lot of people asked how you manage it all. The answer is juggling, balancing. And I recall you answering this question in the past. You said something doesn't get done, and you rotate what that something is. Either your kids or your husband or your laundry or your cooking get less attention. That's probably true for all mothers, but especially writer-mothers.

What do I sacrifice? Laundry piles up and cooking gets simple when I spend more time writing.

Can't wait to see those video responses.

Emily White said...

The laundry usually gets sacrificed at my house. And the dusting. When I've got both the kids napping, I'd rather be writing than cleaning. :( My poor house.

Katie Ganshert said...

Sadly, I sacrifice exercise. Hoping that will change once I'm home next year.

Alyssia said...

Hey, Elana! For me, it's sleep. I'm a morning writer, and so I wake up around 4:30 or thereabouts, hit my coffee pot, and get after it 'til 7:15, when I have to start getting ready for the day job.

On weekends, it's different, of course. But I still get up fairly early, write 'til 9:00 or so, then start doing housework. Afterwards, I go sporadically back to the keyboard and write a paragraph here, a line of dialogue there.

Amazing, though, haven't you discovered... that even though you have a husband, children, a day job, house chores, etc., you never really stop writing. Because it's on your brain, no matter what. I guess it's our own sort of torment.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sometimes it's time with my wife. Sometimes it's just stupid, useless time!

funny in the 'hood said...

I stopped exercising (sadly), and I stopped ironing. I would never send my children out the door without ironing their entire outfit, even T-shirts. Then I started writing a novel and they've been a little wrinkly ever since. I've also gotten up at 5:00 a.m. for the last year so I could write for two hours before going to my real job. I also snuck in some longer writing sessions on the weekend. I wrote on every major holiday and took a notebook on our family vacation to Disney World. And the thing is, I wanted to do all that. Now that my novel is complete, and I'm querying, I feel out of sorts. I thought I would love the break, but I don't. I guess it's time to start another novel.

Tracey

upinthecosmos said...

I too covet the time some writers have and I'm just a hobby writer:-) I sacrifice time with my boyfriend but it's a release for me so I benefit from it. Stop in & read Stylish Blogger

Christine Danek said...

Exercise and cleaning. Sometimes time with my family. I know sad, but when I have a thought I have to get it out. It's all balance, and sometimes that's hard to do.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Definitely a clean house. Probably some family time, though I'm a lot better than I used to be. Now that my kids are in school full time, I don't have an excuse anymore. Now I make time for family movie night on the weekends, and in the summer I'll go biking with my family in the evenings. :D

Natalie Aguirre said...

I sacrifice a lot for writing and the social networking. Many days I just let my husband and daughter watch TV, run errands or whatever without me to have time to write. And I watch very little TV or socialize because I just don't have time. And did I mention sleep? I usually get up early even if I don't have to go to work. But it's worth it.

Have a great weekend.

Anita Saxena said...

I usually write during down time at work and I like to go to the library on the weekends and dedicate large chunks of time. I try to make sure I have plenty of time for boyfriend and family, but sometimes I become a writing recluse on the weekends and don't see them.

writegirl said...

I sacrifice sleep - lots of it! - which shows itself as a puffy darkness around my then bloodshot eyes, so I guess you could say I sacrifice a pleasing/ decent appearance as well. Laundry suffers at our home and I have a hidden spot in my kitchen that reminds me of an episode of Hoarders until I sacrifice writing time to sift through the stacks which usually consists of a combo of school papers, coupons, happy meal toys and old critique pages. Occasionally I'll find a piece of chocolate from the prior holiday which I consider a reward for my efforts.

Catherine Denton said...

The house.
My Blog

Julie said...

I really needed this post, to know that there are others like me who have to work a full time job and write, take care of the house, pets, cooking, cleaning, etc. My two close writer friends (and they are absolutely dear and wonderful) don't have to work, and sometimes the envy virus seeps in when I compare my level of exhaustion to theirs.

For me, cleaning fades to the background (except the kitchen which must be sparkly), the dogs don't get as many walks as the Dog Whisperer orders, reorganization projects take months, and my social life disappears.

Even with all that and the difficulty in querying/rejections, I can't imagine living any other way.

Great post!

Escape Artist said...

Actually I worry about balance quite a bit. I feel that I've lost it at the moment. I'm driven to work until I start seeing double. I resent my bodies need for sleep. I hate sleep. And don't you find when you write - the hours, the days, fly by and you're standing at the end and you realize you haven't even stepped outside on the glorious fine day that it was. Yikes. How did that happen. Easily enough.
So balance. Time. Stepping away and coming back to it. It's tricky. I'm even dreaming about my latest work, finding myself in caves and mountains and I wake up and tell my kids and they just think I'm a little bit of crazy. Then I know, time to step away, step outside. Balance!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Well, I hate to say I sacrificed my workouts. That three hours a day back and forth to the gym and the time spent there ate into my writing time.

Of course this had major repercussions to my body. I put on a ton of weight and feel like crap.

However. I have managed to now take back some of my time because I need feel happy to write and since I now have lost half the weight I gained I feel better and I still find time to write, but not as much. Oh, well, we can't have everything. Right?

Kristi Helvig said...

I know you're already aware of my possessed laundry basket-lol, but I also sacrifice sleep. And I have to love something an awful lot to give up my sleep, because I'm so not a morning person.

I end up staying up til midnight (or later), and then getting up w/ the kiddos at 6a. As someone who needs 8-9 hours to be happy, I do a lot of catching up on the weekends, because hubby gets up w/ them every Sat. and Sun. If it weren't for him, I'd die. :)

Christine Fonseca said...

Oh yes, you know how much I have to juggle things to balance it all. And there are certainly times when I wonder if it is all worth it. Glad you've found a way to manage it all.

Patricia A. Timms said...

I'm a housewife and mom of 3 kids. I wrote every chance I got before kids (not for pulishing, just for the urge) and then gave it all up, even some journaling to be a star mom. Then depression set in because I was here 100% for kids and never did anything for me (that lasted for 8 years). Now I'm here but I give up some afternoon outside time and let my husband take them out, sometimes I let my husband cook dinner after work and breakfast on the weekends (he's great at it anyway), I used to watch TV with the kids and now I write next to the TV, and mostly I've given up some sleep time to write before kids go to school and after they go to sleep. In this case, I'm evening the playing field rather than sacrificing to some degree because I sacrificed myself and my sanity for the kids and now I have that back and think I'm a better wife and mother thanks to the sacrifices I make for the writing. Or, I'm just a really selfish mom. I'll know on the flip side I guess.

lbdiamond said...

Sometimes it feels like I'm juggling priorities...or like they're on a rotating schedule. I'll focus on one thing for a while, then change it up. The schedule can get a little too fast paced if I'm not careful, though.

midnightblooms said...

I think of it as prioritizing rather than sacrificing mostly because I don't miss the things I've given up. Turns out they weren't all that important to me anyway. Plus it really cut down on the guilt.

Sadly, it also took away my right to complain when I don't have time to write, but I don't let that stop me. ;)

Joshua said...

One word: Sleep.

Totally worth it, every time (mostly).

Michelle Merrill said...

In order to write I sacrifice my free time at night to do anything else I could be doing after the kids go to bed. Vegging in front of the TV, looking up goofy movies on YouTube, crafting, spending time with friends, and reading. Most of those I'd give up in a heartbeat but some are precious to me so I make sure to sacrifice writing to do them every once in a while.

To blog I sacrifice moments with my kids...that's why it's so hard for me to do it during the day. But if it came at night, I'd have to sacrifice it for writing.

It's a hard balance and I work at it every second of the day :) Thanks for the post!

Deana said...

I ask myself this question daily. As much as my husband supports me, this isn't a job that pays you know? My youngest is three and still at home. I constantly worry if I'm not teaching him enough because I am glued to a computer writing. I nag myself so much that sometimes I stop writing all together and work on being the pefect mom...umm...NEVER happens. Then my writing calls and berates me for being an idiot until I take up where I left off once more. Ah, the joys of writing.
I just pray my family won't lose out too much in this selfish journey of mine and I can one day show them how all the sacrifice has paid off.

marissameyer said...

I've sacrificed crafting and other creative activities. A friend and I are mutually envious of each other: I envy her for having a ton of talents and projects: she writes, draws, paints, plays guitar, makes doll clothes and jewelry... the list goes on. But then, she envies me for being passionate enough about writing to focus on it. I sometimes feel like I'd love to paint or learn embroidery, but there just isn't the time.

Heather said...

Most of my writing is done in stolen moments but I sacrifice an hour each morning as well. Just like any hobby or passion that someone is driven to do, writing is something that I take time to do. I try to see it as part of my life instead of an interuption to it. That along with the wonderful people who support it (including my priceless spouse) make it oh so worth it. :)

Sara B. Larson said...

There are so many things that have to get sacrificed. A perfectly clean, organized house. TV. Sometimes a shower... ha ha. But is it worth it? To be pursuing my dream, to do what I love? Yes.

Heather said...

Like a lot of others, a clean house. Nice to know I'm not the only one with dust piles. ;)

Nichole Giles said...

I sacrifice a lot, but probably not enough. My house is rarely clean. Easter is in two days and I haven't bought baskets and stuff for my kids. I'd love to have more sleep than I get each night. But. *shrugs*

It is worth it though. Time is such a precious commodity, so if I didn't love writing (and also hate it) I wouldn't be able to do it. It's just part of who I am now. And who I am is as important as who my kids are, who my husband is, and what they do. It's a juggling act we learn out of necessity, rather than choice.

Emily said...

Thank you for writing this post. I'm struggling right now to figure out what I can 'sacrifice.' I have four children and my husband has his own business, so he is really busy and gone a lot.

Since I started writing more seriously I almost NEVER watch TV. I write late at night, early in the morning.

And I am almost ALWAYS tired. But, I realized, I was tired before I wrote...so, I guess life is about being tired.

Every once and awhile I just run away to the library. You have to do that sometimes.

Thanks, by the way, for your blog. It's very helpful for me.

Amber Argyle said...

I had this all figured out. And then I got a publishing contract. Now I'm scrambling to figure out how to balance it all.

Right now, I have zero time to write. Marketing and editing has taken up every spare second.

Most days I work (writing/kids/housework) from the moment I wake up until I go to bed (way later than I should).

I'll let you know if I ever figure it out.

Little Ms J said...

I used to sacrifice evening conversations with hubs while I'd be in my writer zone. He would let me know when he was feeling neglected, which was good. With all the pregnancy hormones my brain is freaking mush now, so no writing has been done. I'm curious to see how I balance once I have my brain right AND a baby to take care of!

Lenny Lee* said...

hi miss elana! for sure i could wanna sacrifice doing my homework. ha ha. mostly i sacrifice doing stuff with my brothers and my sister and i sacrifice playing cause i just gotta write.
...hugs from lenny

Rebecca Knight said...

Simply put, I'm a slob :).

BUT if I ever strike it rich writing, I'll hire a maid!

Sacrifice, baby.

Jemi Fraser said...

Some sacrifices don't hurt: laundry & cleaning for example :)

Others are tough: sleep, TV, some social/family time

Gabriela Pereira said...

Great post, Elana (as always!)

I'm one of the lucky ones I guess, because my life right now is balanced out so that I actually do have time to write. Of course, there is still sacrifice... like that little piece of my soul that dies every time someone says: "Why don't you quit that ridiculous writing nonsense and do something sensible with your time?"

Krispy said...

Usually sleep is the first thing to go on the sacrificial altar. I know, it's bad and I do love sleep, but for some reason that just feels like one of the easier things to cut. Then there's social time sometimes.

Deirdra Eden-Coppel said...

I love your site and as I browsed your blog I decided to award you the Powerful Woman Writer Award.
Go to http://astorybookworld.blogspot.com/p/awards.html and pick up your award.
~Deirdra
PS. Congratulations on you book getting published. Love your blog, and also the League of Extraordinary Writers blog. Sent an award to that blog too.

Alyssa said...

You do have to sacrifice allot you really write things that make me think

Cheree said...

I will have to say, sleep. When life gets too hectic I find it easier to write late at night, but still have to get up early in the morning.

Liesl said...

TV is definitely out. Also the laundry and dishes are usually piled up. I don't feel like I have sacrifice my family all that much, we're just super-organized about the way we spend our time. So maybe I sacrifice laziness? There's just no time for laziness. I miss my lazies every now and then.

Aubrie said...

I sacrifice reality TV and playing solitaire. :) But it's totally worth it.

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I was like, "Wow, the uber famous Elana Johnson stoppped by my lil' old blog today"

Made me happy!

Joylene Butler said...

I sacrificed a beautiful computer room overlooking our lake in exchange for a table in the corner of my dining room. Two reasons, I was spending too much time climbing the stairs. I now spend double the time writing because I'm right here in the centre of the house. The con, I have to close the blind because the sun glares off the lake and blinds me. So, I suppose I sacrificed the room and the view.

Jeff King said...

That’s so true… sometimes I’m too selfish with my time, and writing takes a back seat. Thx for the motivation.

LTM said...

ugh! TOUGH question, Elana. For me, it's time with my family when I'm really writing. I try to make up for it when I'm not writing, but don't ask me if it's worth it. I don't know... :o\

Melanie Stanford said...

Sometimes its reading, sometimes watching a favorite TV show that's piling up on the PVR. Sometimes it's a nap! Sometimes it's playing with the kids (sadly) or vacuuming the TV room, or that very involved dinner I had planned to make. But somtimes it's my writing that is sacrificed for all of that stuff!

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