The call to adventure is the first main plot point in an adventure story. This is when our protagonist is faced with an event, or a conflict, that is going to send them on the adventure, not to mention likely change their life. This is the understanding that they'll have to leave where they are, that everything is going to change. In Lord of the Rings, this is when Frodo realizes he'll be leaving the Shire with the Ring.
Well, if you haven't guessed yet, our theme for this month will be Adventure. Though in today's blog post, we're taking a look not at adventure stories, rather, the call to write, regardless of what you're setting off to write, as well as the call away from it. After all: with the call to adventure also comes the refusal of the call.
So how do we make time for writing? And if we already have the time, what else is stopping us? How do we overcome those? All questions we're tackling today.
How do we make time for writing?
More or less the mystery that plagues every writer ever. Bonus points if you're keeping up with everything else in your life (extra extra if you're taking care of anyone/adulting), and double that if you're also an artist in a different medium. Because we all just don't have time, right?
I won't say right off that's an exaggeration. There are definite ways you may not have the time needed to write. Your schedule right now, if you don't write regularly, probably doesn't allow for it. But schedules are generally changeable.
Here's something you'll need to seriously look at if you want to write regularly: are you willing to prioritize it as part of your daily life? And if so, how much?
There's always the option of trying to simply write more than you currently are. While that doesn't work as well in my experience, it may be what works for you. Every writer is different, and every writer's schedule (or lack thereof) will look slightly different as well. Habits and patterns can be subtle — but I'm almost certain everyone has them. Easy as they are, they can seem natural; yet they are always reinforced somehow.
If you're not satisfied with the frequency in which you write right now, then it's up to you to rewrite those patterns. You may feel the call of your adventure to be written down, sure. But it remains, that no one but you is able to really drag you to your writer seat and make you write.
You're going to have to decide what you prioritize, taking into account what matters for you. Don't want to cut out your time with the people you care about? That's fine. But chances are, you're not spending every minute of every hour of every week with them. Every time you say no to writing, you're saying yes to something else. Likewise, every time you say yes to writing, you will be saying no to something else.
Make sure those yeses and nos are ones you're alright with.
One common way writers force themselves into sorting out that schedule is NaNoWriMo, or more generally known as setting a deadline. By writing x number of words a day, or simply knowing you want to make it to writing sprints every day or week you can in the month, is a somewhat organic way of carving out a schedule amidst all your other commitments.
Note the somewhat. Most people can't NaNo every month. That's normal. 50,000 words a month is not feasible for many, particularly those with commitments more important than writing. But here is what you prove to yourself in NaNoWriMo:
You can carve out times for you to get in some words somewhat regularly (I hope) in the month. You figure out how to make your writing self work with your deadline. You can do this. It won't be comfortable at first, and some days, you'll have to drag yourself to the chair. Some days, you'll end up rethinking your priority list (which is normal; it should be flexible).
You can do it. Does it feel like a ride every time; is it ever easy? Pretty much no.
But adventures aren't easy. That's part of what makes them so memorable.
You will have blocks
Some days will be entirely given to procrastination while you guilt around about what you "should be writing". This is where a piece of advice I read first from Jerry Jenkins comes through practically every deadline I set for myself:
You have to plot days for procrastination, or for sinking yourself in inspiration. Because you will have them. And when you do, you would've already done the work to make up for what you lost by adding them to your deadline's total. Or at the very least, you'll be able to take a day off without falling very much behind at all. In doing this, you acknowledge you'll have off days, and that it's okay to have them.
More on blocks, though: it's important to remember that you can't pour from an empty cup; you can't write from an empty pen.
There's an inkwell inside every creative, and it needs to be filled with care regularly. This generally looks — for writers — like consuming narratives of every medium. Anything from the stories your friend tells you while waiting in line to watching a masterpiece in film or, most obviously: reading a book.
Components of adventure are almost everywhere, if you've the imagination. (And the energy, of course; my best wishes to any fellow exhausted student. I feel you). Your regular life can fill the inkwell too. While meeting people in this time can be impossible, communication is still possible. Hopefully you can find your version of found family, or leadership, or community, or hope and courage, even now.
No one can (or should) always follow the call to writing
That's a great way to get burned out. To write, one generally has to live as well. Or else, how are we to understand the feeling of love, or disgust, or see the effects of hatred, injustice and how we stand against it?
You will find your balance between both calls. That balance will probably change a couple times throughout your life. And that's a good thing.
Here's some Hemingway:
"In order to write about life first you must live it."
Janelle Yapp is a writer and self-dubbed professional daydreamer. Her work has appeared in Unpublished Magazine and Paper Crane Journal, among others. She is also a staff writer at Outlander Magazine.