A Monthly Column by Anthony D. Fredericks
It’s About Time!
Not long ago, on my afternoon walk, I was introduced to a friend of a friend. We chatted about the weather, how we were dealing with the pandemic, and the sudden emergence of daffodils throughout the neighborhood. My friend mentioned that I was a writer of both children’s books as well as adult nonfiction. When she told her neighbor I had published over one hundred books, an incredulous look crossed her friend’s face. “I’ve always wanted to be a writer but never had the time,” she said. “How do you find the time to write?”
It’s a question that sometimes surfaces in social situations. I often share a common response: “I never have to find the time to write, because I always make time to write.” I explain that, for me, writing is a passion, never a hobby. It’s not something I need to scribble on my “To Do” list, rather it’s a daily convention—a morning religion, if you will—like brushing my teeth, putting on a clean shirt, or brewing a pot of Kona coffee.
Writing is not an add-on to my life, it’s my raison d’être!
“But, Tony, I’ve got two kids, a household to manage, bills to pay, tennis lessons, soccer schedules, shopping, cleaning, and a husband who likes to eat dinner every now and again. I just don’t have the time!”
Okay, I get it! But, consider this: Instead of looking for time to write amidst all our personal and household responsibilities, perhaps we need to find time to do all those chores and obligations once the writing is done.
For me, writing is my passion . . . my priority. I get up at 5:30 a.m.—prime time when the world is still asleep and the neighborhood still. A quick shower, a simple breakfast, and a towering cup of java and I’m at my desk by 6:00. My task is getting words on a page or editing the words I put on the page the day before. I am focused, I am determined, I am writing. Every. Single. Morning.
Later is when I’ll clean out the garage, go grocery shopping, weed the garden, mop the kitchen floor, hang a painting, do laundry, run errands, or take my afternoon walk. Writing comes first. It is most important. It’s always on my schedule. Everything else may or may not get done . . . and I’m okay with that. They are not priorities . . . 1,000 words a day is.
Sometimes we let all the chores and “duties” of our lives command us. We convince ourselves that all those activities are just as important as our desire . . . our desire to write a book or craft a story for children. We make long lists of errands—homogenizing all our responsibilities into one big pot. Time to write gets dumped in too because it demands a certain quantity of minutes or hours in a busy and overcrowded day. However, when writing is mixed in with everything else, it loses its importance; it reduces its significance. It’s no longer a priority, it’s now a chore . . . another obligation like washing the dishes, vacuuming the living room carpet, or putting the kids’ toys away.
We now have to find time to make it happen.
You might be surprised by all the things in your life that are not essentials . . . that are not priorities. You might be equally surprised by the ways in which those nonessential responsibilities suck time away from your passion . . . from what “floats your boat.” Perhaps, we need to ask ourselves three questions: 1) Is writing (for children) my ultimate passion or is it one of my obligations? 2) Is writing a necessity or a pastime? and 3) Does writing command my attention or vie for my time?
Or, consider these: 1) When we mix writing in with everything else, guess what suffers? 2) When we blend our passion with our chores, guess what is diminished? 3) When writing is on the same list as vacuuming, guess what gets compromised?
Today, I have to pick up a prescription, do some laundry, spackle a wall in the guest bathroom, and install a garden trellis. Those will all come later . . . maybe. First, I write.
It’s about time!
Tony is the author of more than 50 award-winning children’s books including Tall Tall Tree (Sourcebooks/Dawn), The Tsunami Quilt: Grandfather’s Story (Sleeping Bear Press), and Desert Night, Desert Day (Rio Nuevo). He has also authored Writing Children’s Books: Everything You Need to Know From Story Creation to Getting Published (https://amzn.to/3wK6FD9) [“This book tells the truth about being an author of children’s books.” —5-star review]