Last weekend, I attended a meeting of the Indiana chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association (ACFW) in Merrillville, Indiana. There I met John Faubion, a writer of Christian suspense. His first novel, Friend Me, is scheduled for publication in February and he asked five volunteers to read an advanced copy and review on Goodreads. I volunteered and was surprised he picked me since I was the only new face in the house and we’d only chatted briefly during the luncheon.
I don’t particularly read suspense, but the premise behind this one was interesting (you can read the review on my homepage). To fill voids in their lives, a husband and wife seek companionship online, unaware a psychopath is manipulating the virtual friends they’ve created. One of the themes in the story is the consequence of idolatry. All the couple cared about was spending time on the computer, at the expense of their jobs and their marriage. Though they didn’t know about the manic stalking them through their virtual friends, the point was their priorities were screwed up.
I mention this book because I’ll be back to teaching next week. My free time will be over. I’ll be writing lesson plans, evaluations and IEPs. And while I’m almost ready to get back to nine months of structure, when will I have time to really write? Aside from work, I have sorority business, confirmation classes to teach, critique groups to prepare for, Bible class to attend. When will I have time to write?
I think back to last school year, when finishing my manuscript was paramount. That was all I thought about. Any free time I had, at work or those Sunday mornings I should have been in a pew, I spent typing, researching or scratching scene notes on the first piece of paper I could find. It wasn’t until I finished the manuscript and found I had nothing else to do, that I realized I had allowed it to become my “god”.
My friend and I had the pleasure of having breakfast with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley at Midwest Writers Workshop this summer. He gave us a preview of his morning talk on what he called “The Toxic Triangle” and how to fit God, family and writing into your life. From that, I know that I have to start this school year off right, remembering what my priorities are. With my very first manuscript done and query letters sent (yes, I actually took the plunge!), I need to start a new project. Attending the ACFW national conference in September should get my juices going again. But I’ll still need to fit writing into my schedule. So I came up with this plan:
- Don’t take my writing to work. I made that mistake last year.
- Set a specific time in the evening to write AFTER I’ve spent time with my husband.
- Extend my To-Do list into after work hours. Include a specific writing “to-do”.
- Don’t make excuses not to attend my critique groups. That’ll force me to have something written every week.
And most importantly—keep God first. I will not forego church just because my fingers are itching to write. If the idea is any good, it’ll still be there when I get back home. Just as easily as God gave me the ability and desire to write, it could just as easily be taken away. There’s a time for everything. With proper planning, prioritizing and prayer, I can get it all in.