Monday, August 14, 2017

Time and a Freaking Out Writer

by Peter Leavell @peterleavell

My emotions broil until my insides turn to jelly. It’s all about time.

I’ve written about time before. I even had answers. So, why am I a quivering mess of goo?

I’m not alone. Writer men come to me in tears. Day job. Family time. Lawn. Boom. Day over. Writer women’s fingernails are daggers piercing their palms. Whirlwinds destroyed the floor they just cleaned. Expectations. Church duties. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Day job. Boom. Day over.

God gave me a need to write, and then took away my time!

We’re serious writers, and we know what it takes to compete with the person who has a spouse with a satisfactory job and the kids are away creating their own havoc in the world. #jealous (This isn't a competition! Drive to be your best, and don't listen to agents and editors who say there are hundreds of manuscripts for every publishing slot.)

—Study of craft.
—Study the market.
—Read 1000 pages for every 1 we write.
—Maintain five social media profiles, two blogs, and a website.
—Research our topic.
—Know agents, acquisition editors, and publishers.
—Write, rewrite, edit, and galley proof.
—Do it all so well, people pay money to follow you.

Comments from people who have time that turns my blood to lava:

—I’ve got writer’s block.
—I’m not feeling it today, so I’m going to binge watch Downton Abbey.
—I know you asked for half an hour of quiet time, but you never sit down, and I’m feeling sad, so I need you to help me cheer up.
—How’s your book coming?
—I found a spelling eror in your last blog.
—You need to put more thought into your work.
—You love writing more than you love me.
—I wrote 10,000 words today!
—You’re going to come home and just sit there in a make-believe world when there’s so much going on in real life?

You know who you are. You know what you can do

Tips to help with time:

—Keep a planner. It’s okay—no, not okay, it’s essential—to manage every half-hour and tell people no. Or yes, for a specific amount of time. Time management takes practice!

—Home a den of entertainment and noise? Create a culture of reading and learning. Sit down with your spouse and discuss steps to fill the house with books where the TV used to be, both mentally and physically. Talk about what you’ve learned. Then, family members are eager to keep learning. I can chat later about how we cultivated this culture in our home.

—If writing actually works, and you do publish, people will want to hang around to be with you because you’re famous. Famous like me. (so laughing right now) You’ll need to learn to control situations. Honestly, I failed here, and am just learning now how to control conversations.

—Give yourself a few moments of downtime.

—You’re not going to be the best. But you’re not called to be the best of anything. At home, work, or art. Read Galatians in the Bible. You’re not a slave to those thoughts. It’s freeing to be yourself, and to bring your best, not be the best.

— Consider studying a bit of Reformed Theology and the connection between Christ and art. Should you make your artistic passion part of your devotional life?

Novelist might be on your business card  but you’re a businessperson, a content creator. Blogs and social media posts have as much impact as novels. So, if a post is all you can handle in a day, great job.

—One idea about craft, taken in during a five-minute break, is better than an entire book of ideas crammed and soon forgotten.

Readers don’t handle an author’s excuses with grace. They want action! Reading material! Which, if you think about it, is fantastic! But don’t forget, a little self-care makes your writing better. Exercise, read, and pray!

Do you have tips that help with time frustrations?

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at


  1. Great wisdom for writers, especially new writers like me. Thank you.

    1. Thanks, Melissa! Blessings as you explore the craft!!!

  2. "You’re not going to be the best." Well, that certainly brought me up short. And then your words: "But you’re not called to be the best of anything," along with your encouragement to read Galatians. It just so happens I started reading Galatians again last night. Looking forward to doing so in light of your reminder that I don't have to work at being the best, but my best.

    1. Thanks, Beth! I think it was Hemingway who said we are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master. That's such a hard pill to swallow for me.

      Our church is studying Galatians and the concept of legalism in the Christian life! Fascinating study!

  3. Really great post -- humor seasoned with salt and go-get'em-ness. Today I go back to Galatians. Thanks for the boost.

    1. We're adopted! And not to be slaves! Thanks, Naomi!

  4. I can soooo relate! Always love your posts, Peter! You know how to temper the truth with humor. I'm really working on being okay with giving myself some "personal" downtime.

    1. Why is it that personal downtime is soooo difficult? Maybe you should write on that, Dawn. I'd be interested to hear what you think.

    2. I may have to tackle that one, Peter. When I have the "time." LOL!

  5. ... and then took my time away!! OY!! Father gave me the beginnings (pantzer here) for my debut novel a month AFTER He told me to go back to school. and then 2 years later, i was diagnosed with RA!!! not sure about the BFA yet but the RA is managed with meds, and novel #4 releases this month!! i just does what He says to do!!! (and a wee bit excited!!)

    1. Yay, Robin!!!!!!! Always amazing to see God put the afterburners on life!

  6. Well I only wrote 5000 words today so you don't have to be #jealous. And don't ask me about my book (yes, THAT book). I have to write this one first.
    I do love not being the best. I've decided to just be me.
    P.s. you are awesome.

    1. Awww, Lisa. Thanks. And I should probably be me, too, instead of Lisa Phillips. But you're such a great writer!


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