Most writers, myself included, have the same problems. We don’t eat healthy food, we don’t exercise enough, we don’t get enough caffeine, and we sure as hell don’t get enough sleep. Most of us are not lacking in ideas, knowledge, resources, or even, in most cases, talent.
What we lack, more than anything, is time.
It’s also not just a matter of making time. Just as important is the matter of managing the time you pry loose from your schedule. Sometimes it is the ultimate test of will to focus on one story at a time with all the various ideas bouncing around in the writer’s mind like bingo balls.
I’m not different in this regard. I have lots of ideas floating around in my head and every time I sit down to write I have to determine what the greatest priority is. Do I work on the short story I plan on submitting to an anthology next month or I do I try to peck out a little more progress on the novel-in-progress? It’s often a hard call that leaves me paralyzed looking at the blank computer screen for a long time before I can actually make a decision.
So, to give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s a far-from-comprehensive list of the things I plan to write when, and if, I get the time and after I finish the other things I’ve already started:
–a short story about married vampire hunters;
–a new twist on the Jekyll and Hyde tale, a comedic romp that may either take shape as a short story or a screenplay;
–a short story about redneck storm chasers;
–a romantic comedy screenplay structured around karaoke bars;
–a television pilot based on my umpteen years in retail, sort of The Office meets Wal-Mart;
–a musical about the life of a spoiled pop diva (I’ll need some help with this one—I am musically illiterate);
–a play about a guy abducted and locked in a crazy woman’s basement;
–a stand-up comedy routine, including jokes about my experience with cancer and life as a retail manager.
And this is just a small sample of what goes through my head on an almost daily basis. I do what I can to jot down the ideas when they occur to me, but even so some of them escape my grasp. They are like fish that come just to the surface of the lake and then disappear into the murky depths before they can be caught. Sometimes the resurface, remembered at an opportune time which allows me to hook them and mount them up on my wall. Sometimes they disappear without even the slightest notion that they occurred in the first place.
It would be easy for me to look at the above list and get overwhelmed by the amount of work and the time commitment that they represent. I could write consistently for years, decades even, and not completely check off every item. What is important to remember, for me and for every other writer faced with the same problem, is that the writing—whether it is a short story or a novel, a television pilot or a plan—only comes one word at a time. Whichever project I decide to work on each and every night cannot be written any faster than that. Some of these stories speak stronger to me than others, and some would be tremendous fun to write, but regardless, the work only happens at two speeds: stop, or one word followed by another word followed by another.
And, if anyone feels the need to take one of these ideas and write it, by all means, go for it. Just because you take an idea and make it your own does not mean that you will do it better than me. I don’t mind the competition, because it’s not other writers I’m competing with—it’s me versus the story. And it’s always me versus the story. As long as I do the best job I can, I can’t allow myself to be worried about what anyone else does.
Now, time to go write about some inbred hillbillies. Later!