teaching

Making Time to Write When There Seems to Be So Little

First and foremost, I’d like to point out that, in my experience, there is always more time available to write than there seems to be – it’s about making a commitment and maximizing on opportunities. For instance, I’ve been on Christmas break for two weeks. I enjoyed lazy days filled with coffee, revision, and Downton Abbey, with no care given to the time of day. This translated to going to sleep at 3am and waking at 10 or 11 (plus a late afternoon nap or two). I forced myself to wake up early this Sunday morning to break the cycle and spent the day at work prepping for the new semester. I happily fell asleep at 9pm. Problem? It’s 2am and I’m wide awake. I could toss and turn in my bed, or watch TV, but I’m taking the opportunity to write a blog post instead. Perhaps by the time I’m done, I’ll be ready to squeeze in 3 more hours of sleep.

I point all this out to say, seize the opportunities as they arise. And when they don’t arise naturally, make them. Value your craft. Put it above those potentially time draining activities like watching TV or staring at the ceiling, wishing you were asleep. This is going to be more important for me than usual, as I enter my most chaotic time of year. As a teacher and lacrosse coach, I’ll be leaving home at 6:15 every weekday morning and not returning until at least 12 hours later. Game day? Make that about 15 hours. Throw in all the grading and planning many teachers must do at home and there is minimal time for anything but dinner and sleep on Monday through Friday evenings (it’s a good thing I like my job). I’m still amazed that I somehow managed to finish my first draft and complete the final semester of graduate school last spring without neglecting myself, cat, students, or team. That proves that it is indeed possible to find the time. Oh, and shout out to any teacher-coach-writer-moms /dads out there. I know you exist and WOW… It’s a struggle just caring for myself. Go you!

Anyway, here’s how it usually works out for me: I do very little writing, if any, Monday through Thursday. I choose to look at the writing and revision of my novel as another job. This job has a flexible schedule, but there are certain weekly requirements (writing and revision goals I’ve set in advance). I choose to spend the weekends (minus a few lacrosse filled Saturday’s) working to meet those requirements. The problem? Making time for friends and family. I end up turning down lots of invitations. Often times, “just lunch” turns into a five hour outing- an enjoyable outing, but one that most certainly has negative consequences on progress with my book. Does that mean I never see friends or family in the spring (semester)? No! I take advantage of breaks from school and 3 day weekends and I play catch up with my writing when I’ve indulged in a playful weekend. It helps that my friends and family know what this time of year is like for me and they understand what my writing means to me. Still, I appreciate that they also know when it’s time to forcibly draw the hermit out of her shell.

The take away? If you want it badly enough, you make it work. No exceptions. Repeat this to yourself over and over on tough days and you’ll look back with pride, wondering how the heck you managed it.

Happy writing… Whenever it is you make the time.

-ED

Follow me on Twitter: @ElleDesa_Writes

I’m on Pinterest, too: Planning My 1st Book , Writing Inspiration and Tips

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Writing YA

I’m 25. I’m getting far enough removed from my teenage years that I don’t remember the full range of complex emotions that go along with adolescence. I’ve read a good bit about how to (and not to) approach writing from the point of view of a teenager and/or for a young adult audience. This article has some good tips to consider.

Fortunately for me (most days) my job has me surrounded by young adults of all varieties. I get to hear about what matters to them, watch how they act, and talk to them. I get to see how they respond to learning new/interesting/funny things, and I get to see how they react to discipline, disappointment, and getting hurt. There is no shortage of the adolescent voice in my world, and that helps me write. I’ve told a large handful of my students about the plot of my current WIP and it’s been nice hearing their feedback…especially in the earlier stages. I a had few ideas that more the one student shot down as weird/lame/uninteresting. I did keep a few of those reject ideas anyway because I know they’ll fit naturally in the full context of the story, even though they apparently sounded strange when isolated. Either way, I appreciate the access I have to people at least somewhat like the characters in my story.

-ED

Managing Time

So as I mentioned in my last post, I’m struggling to balance work with keeping up with my writing. I’m a high school biology teacher so summer was the most perfectly beautiful, awesome time to immerse myself in writing my first novel… and many days were still a struggle! Now, the first week of school as a teacher is chaos, but as we get going, I’ll fall into a relatively comfortable routine. Still, teaching pulls a significant amount of time outside of work. I wake up around 5:30am most weekdays, get to work around 6:45, leave at 4 on a good day, get home, relax a bit, eat something, maybe grade a few papers and BAM it’s pushing 9pm and my eyelids are getting heavy. Let’s add on top of that that I’m three classes away from my masters degree in biology and I’ve got two classes starting week after next. Ah!! Let’s not even talk about what my days will look like once it’s time to put my lacrosse coaching hat back on.

It’s alot… but I did choose this life and I do love it! (more…)

Murdering the Green Eyed Monster

So, I ended up being really good at teaching biology, but teaching can be pretty thankless. Complaints from parents outweighed appreciation. There always seemed to be an article online about “how teachers are failing your kids,” and when I started adding up the hours I spent planning, tutoring, coaching soccer and lacrosse, and grading (accounting for time off as well), I felt pretty ripped off (of course, no surprise there, people I don’t even know seem to enjoy bringing up that teachers don’t make big bucks– Rude).

So despite my accomplishments in the classroom, halfway through my second year, I found myself skimming Facebook, jealous of everyone. (more…)

So, why’d you decide to teach?

I’m a 9th grade biology teacher. I’ll be starting my 4th year of teaching this August. I happen to really love teaching, which is a tiny bit surprising considering I only accepted the position because I really needed a job– not the most noble of reasons to enter the career path. I was feeling really burned out my senior year of college and decided I wouldn’t be pursuing a PhD in evolutionary anthropology and scrambled to find something else to do instead. The October before my May graduation date, I began applying for numerous jobs, often hitting the “need X amount of experience I don’t have” wall. I noticed that there were a ton of teaching positions open in math and science— perfect, I’d tutored some kids, I could surely handle teaching high school science content and I liked few things more than rambling on about biology. I dreamed of inspiring some kids for about nine months and using summers off to travel and explore different hobbies.

There are a good handful of school systems that have alternative certification programs for non-education majors like myself, so I applied to all of them. I went to job fairs, I networked, I cried, I applied, I applied, and I applied some more. I didn’t hear a peep back until four days before my graduation. (more…)