A Writerly Life: Robin McKinley

“One of the biggest, and possibly the biggest, obstacle to becoming a writer… is learning to live with the fact that the wonderful story in your head is infinitely better, truer, more moving, more fascinating, more perceptive, than anything you’re going to manage to get down on paper. (And if you ever think otherwise, then you’ve turned into an arrogant self-satisfied prat, and should look for another job or another avocation or another weekend activity.) So you have to learn to live with the fact that you’re never going to write well enough. Of course that’s what keeps you trying — trying as hard as you can — which is a good thing.”

—Robin McKinley (author of fantasy and children’s books; winner of the Newbery Medal)

Our True Priorities Dictate Our Time

We get told this over and over: We all have the same 24 hours a day and how we use them is up to us.

As if, somehow, we’re focusing on things that aren’t important to us. And that’s what hinders our writing.

But, let’s be honest, there are always competing priorities for a woman writer’s time:

Our job – because we all have bills
Our relationships – dealing with kids, partner, parents
Our health – exercise, leisure, sleep

For women, our true priorities – our relationships, our children, our work – dictate how we spend our hours each day.

We can’t, as so many advice-givers advocate, just make time to write. We have to schedule our writing time around our priorities. We focus on things that ARE important to us.

In addition to being a wife, mother, and writer, I am a college professor. Today is graduation. I MUST be at graduation, right. It’s a school requirement, I can’t skip it and write.

Should I feel bad about that? I think not.

Like me, you have challenges in your life that are personal to you. Your job is to determine your true priorities and manage your time around those priorities so that your challenges do not create barriers.

The solution is not to in time management, it is in priority management.

A Writerly Life: Mary Oliver

“Believe me, if anybody has a job and starts at 9, there’s no reason why they can’t get up at 4:30 or five and write for a couple of hours, and give their employers their second-best effort of the day – which is what I did.”
— Mary Oliver

It’s Not Easy to be a Woman and to be a Writer

When it comes to help with finding time to write, a review of the articles and blog posts that talk about it is actually somewhat disturbing. A google search of the key words “time to write” results in over 1 billion hits!, and an examination of these articles and blog posts reveals a certain distain for people who have trouble finding time to write. The attitude of many authors is illustrated in this comment from one I’m here-to-set-you-straight-writer: “If you have trouble with it, then tough. That’s right I said it—tough! Too many writers use lack of time as an excuse not to write”.

Telling someone to take the time to write, doesn’t teach them how to get there.

One reason I study the conditions that affect women’s writing is that the sheer complexity of it guarantees that many diverse factors will come into play. All of which are important, and none of which should be dismissed as simply individual differences. I believe the problem is a complicated weave of our social-cultural conditioning, the state of the publishing industry, and our own personal beliefs about our writer-selves.

This is why my blog is a combination of an examination of my own writing process, methodology to make writing a habit that is hard to quit, and academic information on how social and cultural mores affect women writers.

How has being a woman and a writer impacted you? Let me know in the comments below.

Why I Write #1

#Whyiwrite . . . because it hurts to climb from dreams and shower and dress and work all day and wait for the day’s end to try and fit in some writing time.

Today I am blessed with this soul-saving luxury: a 5:30 a.m. writing session at Starbucks.

Welcome to the Woman Writer Project

Hi, I’m Nancy Lou Semotiuk. I’m a writer, a mom, a professor, and a PhD candidate in humanities and culture at Union Institute and University. Mostly, I am a woman who struggles to write. There is always something that prevents me from writing. It has not been my experience that if I turn off Twitter and do not clean the house that I’ll have a rich writing life.

And I know that I’m not alone.

I’ve fought to understand why I, and women like me, have such a hard time doing the very thing they love most: writing. My blog will address the special needs and dilemmas of women who have trouble finding the time and encouragement to write.

Rather than being told that making time to write is a choice they are not making, women need encouragement and pragmatic tools to help them achieve success.

That’s what this blog is about. Join me.