I first met Lynette Benton on Twitter, and soon discovered what a great writing instructor she makes! That’s why I invited Lynette to write a guest post for Rogue Writer. Today she asks, what would YOU be willing to sacrifice to write? Read (and see) Lynette’s hilarious answer below …
What Are You Willing to Sacrifice to Write?
BY: LYNETTE BENTON
I left my full time job, partly so I’d have time to write.
I only attend every third or fourth birthday, graduation, baby shower, wedding, anniversary, and random celebration hosted by my husband’s huge family. (They’re very forgiving; or they just want me to finish this darn memoir they keep hearing about.)
I descended from my husband’s and my lofty culinary standards by occasionally substituting garlic powder for the freshly peeled deal.
I arranged to teach all my writing classes on only two days a week.
For the 25 years I’ve been with my husband, I’ve let him indulge his passions for vacuuming, doing laundry, and grocery shopping.
But, still, I felt too busy to make as much progress on my memoir rewrites as I wanted to. I had to get drastic.
Years ago …
… a friend with the kind of hair women swoon over, became a White House fellow. He told me that to succeed in this enviable new position, he was making some major changes. Then he waltzed into my apartment with his big, shiny curls cut short and slicked down.
“I’m wearing it like this for the duration,” he said.
Lynette before cutting her hair
Well, my hair is nice, but quite difficult to manage. So one day last spring, I had four inches trimmed from my footlong mane. Nice. But it still took a ton of time to wash, comb, and arrange.
At my wits’ end, I announced to my husband, “It’s either the memoir or the hair. One’s got to go.”
I crept into a hair salon where no one knew me, so they wouldn’t tell me my hair was too pretty to chop off. “Cut it down to an inch all over,” I ordered.
Even after three months of short, short hair, I still don’t look like myself to myself. But my memoir rewrite is moving along at a steady clip now.
You don’t need to be as drastic …
Lynette after cutting her hair
… as I was to free up time and energy to write. Because that’s what we’re talking about here, isn’t it? It’s not just time that we writers need; we need energy—creative energy, physical energy. (Only non-writers think it doesn’t require a lot of energy to write for four or six hours a day.) So here are some actions you can take to give yourself more time (and energy) to write:
- Marry someone with a small, unsocial family.
- Slash your online memberships in half. Social media is great for writers. It’s critical for platform building, and it’s nice to connect with other writers and the rest of humanity after a day of writing in solitude. But, if you belong to 50 LinkedIn groups, as I did, you know it’s impossible to keep up with all of them. Cut your list to 25—as I did. Then see what other online communities you just don’t need to receive any more emails from.
- One day a week, don’t venture farther than your porch, or if you don’t have one, your windows. Getting dressed and commuting anywhere use up time and energy.
- Forget about nail polish, unless you’ve been invited to the White House or Buckingham Palace. (This one was really hard for me!)
- Don’t iron anything. In fact, wear a uniform. I’m sure Steve Jobs’ success can be attributed partly to the fact that he never had to worry about what to wear.
- My friend Lesley says to wear paper cuffs you can write on while waiting in the grocery store checkout line, if you’re not concerned about looking a little insane.
- My husband wants me to add that it’s not necessary to change your clothes every day. But you might not want to try that at home.
Lynette Benton’s articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, Skirt, More Magazine online, and numerous other publications. She teaches and edits creative and business writing in the Greater Boston Area. Her memoir, My Mother’s Money, is in the revision stages. Visit Lynette’s blog, Tools & Tactics for Creative Writers. Contact her at email@example.com, or on Twitter at @LynetteBenton.