Finding time to write – Sandra Block

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By Sandra Block

As Chekhov once said: “medicine is my lawful wife and literature my mistress.”

My version would feature a husband and a lover but you get the gist. I happen to be a neurologist as well as a writer. And since I also have a family who likes to see me now and again, the “how do you do it all” question comes up quite often.

To be honest, for years, I didn’t think I could do it all. I would daydream about winning a lottery, so I could have time to write and still feed my kids. The revelation that I could write while still working came late in life, in my forties. I realized then: my lawful husband could pay me to have a lover! I didn’t have to lead a life of penury (i.e. without sushi) to follow my dream of writing. I could just do both.

If you’re plotting out how to quit your day job and finally write the damn book, do what I did instead. Keep your job, and just start writing. You may be saying…how? It’s impossible. I don’t have the time. But I’m here to tell you it is possible. You do have time.

You just need a few tips to get started.image2

1. Get up. I’m not a “morning person” by nature, and thus never even considered the idea of waking up early to write. But by the time I had finished clinic, thrown in some laundry, battled over homework, and walked the dog, I had about three working brain cells left. It was all I could do to pick up the remote control, let alone work on a book. The answer? Get up. Even if you hate life before your coffee, just do it. Give yourself time before anyone else can make demands on you. I promise, your muse will be waiting.

2. Always be prepared. This isn’t just a Boy Scouts motto. You have to be ready at a moment’s notice to write. The time is there, but you have to steal it. I find working on an iPad helps with this. I don’t have to boot it up, and I can easily bring it wherever I go. If I’m waiting at an airport (like this very moment!) or the doctor’s office etc., I can jot down a paragraph or do some editing. Twenty minutes here and there may not seem like much, but they add up to hours. They add up to life.

3. Keep the faith. Persistence wins. Even if you don’t land an agent or publisher right away, keep going. Keep working on your novel. Keep reading books in your genre. Keep querying. Eventually, you will finish your novel; you will nab your agent; and you will see your book on a shelf out there. Desire is even more important than talent – remember that.

Good luck. Don’t forget, you have the time.

You can live your dream, and you don’t even have to leave your lawful husband to do it.

Sandra Block graduated from college at Harvard, then returned to her native land of Buffalo, New York, for medical training and never left. She is a practicing neurologist and proud Sabres fan and lives at home with her family and Delilah, her impetuous yellow lab. She has been published in both medical and poetry journals. Her new novel, The Secret Room, is out now.

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