If my wife says the
toilet is plugged, do I tell her that the toilet needs to wait because
through the latest CBD catalog, I’ve come to a conclusion. Let’s face
it—more women write Christian novels than men do. Is this because women
are better at writing novels than men are? Or is it because some women,
if they are married and are not the main breadwinner of the home,
simply have more time and opportunity? I don’t know the answer.
What I do
know is that after comparing notes with other successful guy authors,
I’ve arrived at another conclusion. More of us men would crank out
novels more frequently if we had more time or were more efficient with
what time we have. Since most of us are unable to write full-time (yet)
and must therefore work a day job to feed our families, we face a
collective predicament. When do we write?
What I’ve had to do is step back
from my writing and evaluate my time in light of my God-given
priorities. What should be my main focus as a husband, father, and
child of God? Matthew 6:33 is clear that if we seek God first, He’ll
meet our needs. Included in that list, I believe, is time to write. Why
do I consider writing time a “need”? Someone once said that God always
gives us enough time for the things we must do. Therefore, if God has
called me to be an author for His glory—and I believe He has—then I must
find time to write. In fact, God will provide it if I seek Him first.
What I’ve endeavored to do is to
put God first—in my day and in my life—put my wife and daughters second
(which includes a means to provide for them), and put my writing third
(which can potentially provide for my family someday). After all, as
another novelist told me, “You’ll only have those daughters for so
long. Enjoy the time you have with them when they’re little.” So true.
Do I really want to miss seeing four-year-old Julia lose her baby teeth
or be absent at seven-year-old Laura’s piano recital because I was too
busy writing the next chapter? If my wife says the toilet is plugged,
do I tell her that the toilet needs to wait because I’m writing? Only
if I want to live in the dog house.
Of course, balance is key. I can
spend time with my wife and daughters and find time
for my writing. But how exactly do I do that? I must learn to do
something Ephesians 5:16 calls “making the most of your time” (NASB). I
must evaluate each day, consider the wasters that steal my time, and
cut them out of my life.
example, how much TV do I watch (beyond true crime shows, which I
consider research)? Am I constantly checking e-mails throughout the
day? Christy Award-winning novelist Rosey Dow gives wonderful advice,
which I admit I haven’t always followed faithfully. She encourages
authors to check their e-mails only twice a day—at midday and at the
end of the day. Why? If we don’t, we can quickly become slaves to that
familiar chime whenever we get a new e-mail. That slavery, in turn, can
become a Monk-like obsession, and do any of us really want to be like
God has blessed me with the
unusual and convenient opportunity to edit books from home. Still, I
sometimes struggle not so much with time but with motivation. After
all, I already sit in front of a computer and edit words all day. Do I
really want to sit at my computer a few more hours and work on a novel?
is that I must if writing is what I believe God has
called me to do. I need to get past feelings and get down to business
as a writer. That commitment forces me to move past writing as a hobby
and pursue writing as a calling, which is serious business.
Now that my first novel is
coming out in the spring, I take my writing time more seriously. After
all, God has flung the door wide open. I’d be a fool to fritter my time
away and not do the job He has called me to do. Success can be its own
Evening and weekend hours, I’ve
found, are the most profitable. And, hey, if I’ve been sitting too
much, I go jog on the treadmill and return to my chair later. I’ve also
learned when to close my laptop, cuddle with my daughters on the couch,
and watch The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for
the umpteenth time. After all, they need their daddy, and I don’t want
them growing up and thinking that their father had time for his novels
but rarely had time for them. But sitting in front of the tube doesn’t
mean I need to watch everything they do. They don’t mind if I do
research while Aslan pounces on the White Witch.
As for my wife, well, all
married folks will agree that marriage takes work—and it’s about more
than taking out the garbage without being told. It’s about honoring
family time and knowing when my wife needs my
presence, interaction, and an ear that truly listens. After all, I get
only one shot at my family. The fans—God bless ’em!—can wait.
My office door opens, and
four-year-old Julia bounces in, her hazel eyes bright and expectant.
She dashes around the corner of my desk and hops onto my lap, wrapping
her little arms around me. “Mommy says it’s time for supper,” she says.
Here’s another tip for balancing
time. Meal times can be great family times and opportunities to step
away from the project for a while. After all, I’d rather not get
ketchup on my keyboard because I confused meal times with work times.
How about you?