Friday, March 5, 2010

What Evan Lysacek Taught Me About Writing

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I hear people ask sometimes (new writers, mostly), "How can I possibly find the time to write? I'm dealing with a full-time job, family, friends, a house to clean....I just don't have the time to dedicate to working on my novel! What should I do?" I usually give a typical answer, but I saw something today that really hit this point home for me.

Today, for the first time in an embarrassingly long time, I went to the gym. I'm staying in a hotel (which I had to pay a lot of money for because my brother is getting married in Daytona Beach during Bike Week), so I felt  like I wanted to get the full hotel experience - right now I'm even sipping free coffee and using free Internet. Anyway, I read a story on the elliptical, then moved to the floor for crunches and turned on Ellen, where I was able to catch the following interview: 

What struck me the most about this interview is the sheer dedication - seven hours a day of exercise, working on his body (for writers, this would equate to writing exercises, outlining, etc.) and practicing on the ice (for writers, of course, this is the actual story writing and revising). But not only was he out there every day, all day, working his butt off, but he was glad to be doing it. You can tell because, not only does he say that nothing makes him happier, but the joy on his face is completely apparent - his eyes are lighting up, he's animated; he's happy to be talking about what he loves.

Lysacek proves in this interview what I always tell people when they ask me where I find the time - if you love something, you make it work. He said he sacrificed everything; parties, nights out, holidays, all of it, in order to reach his goal. Sure, his full-time job was training, but still; he obviously made some other changes, and even thought about his sport when he wasn't on the ice. It influenced every decision he made. He never wanted to get home and feel like he hadn't accomplished anything. He made a schedule for himself and stuck to it. And if there was something else he needed to do (like wash his car on Tuesday), he worked it in around his training (even if all he had was eight minutes). 

If you want to write, you'll find a way to make it work. You'll stay up late. You'll wake up early. You'll stop watching TV or rearrange your schedule. You'll let the dishes pile up in the sink. Writers write. It's what we do. If you can't find the time, it's not your schedule that's the problem - you just don't want it bad enough. Lysacek wanted it bad enough, so he changed his life. And now he has a gold medal. I want it bad enough, and I've changed (and continue to change) my life. It's what you do to make it work.

On a side note, I love his bit about watching the birds. Just awesome. You really can get inspiration from anywhere - even if you think it's a dumb idea at first, sometimes all it takes is exploring it from a new angle to see that it could be something truly amazing.

What about you? How have you had to change your life to make time for writing? Or is this something with which you continue to struggle?


  1. This is a battle for me because my job is SO mentally and physically exhausting. It's hard for me to do anything but sit on the couch and stare into space when I get home from work because I am just SO drained. It's not that I don't have time, it's more that I don't have any more energy to THINK.

    But time is an issue, because I need to read a lot to maintain my blog, I need to work out so I don't get fat (I have the metabolism of a dead person), I need to do so much work (grading) outside of work hours, and then there is the whole husband / home / friends thing. It's overwhelming.

    Little goals are the best for me. Little, totally achievable writing goals every day. I feel a sense of accomplishment for meeting them, and that keeps me motivated. Plus once I get started I often find that I end up doing way more than I set out to do because I'm in the zone.

    Writing is HARD. But that's also what makes it fun!

  2. My sacrifices have been time with my daughter, primarily, and watching tv. I don't mind the not watching tv thing, because it was mindless entertainment, anyway. What is painful is being away from my 2 year-old daughter. However, I know it's worth it because that's how much I want this - I want it so much I'm willing to sacrifice time with the most important person in the world to me.

  3. Intellectually and idealistically I agree with this. I believe that if you want something enough you will do what you have to to make it happen.

    As I get older though, I also believe that a lot of that ability to focus to the exclusion of everything else in your life is dependent on your age and stage in life, and whether there is anything else going on in it that you value. Like kids, a relationship, a job.

    Those aren't cop outs to not finding enough time to write. If you want them, if you need them, they are central and integral to your writing life. They shape you and define you and your work.

    Kids at two have very different investment required from parents than kids at twenty. So for me, I'm going to agree that little goals are what work for me at this point in my life and this stage of my writing journey. Because just being up before dawn or past midnight isn't enough. I have to be able to think to make anything work.

    Great post.

  4. Thats awesome! Thats exactly how it is and I loved hearing about the sacrifices because I do that too. I'm not living the normal life of a mid twenties single girl, Im practically married to my writing, so its great to hear Im not alone in some of the choices I make and the way I see the world and attack my goals. Love it! And its so true, if you love writing, if you really want it bad enough, you'll get it, no matter what you have standing in your way!

  5. Your post inspired another post on my blog:-)

  6. Oh what a great interview! So meaningful. I feel like this all the time. Sometimes, it's a wonder I ever get anything done at all. It's truly difficult to maintain any semblance of balance in your life, to keep this writing obsession from poorly affecting your family. So, most of my writing is done in the middle of the night so as to be a detriment to my health rather than my family. But I know it won't always be like this. Hopefully. But desire is a powerful thing. You want something badly enough, you sacrifice. Loved that you pointed out the joy on his face. That's what has to be there. If you don't enjoy the process, then it's probably not a worthwhile sacrifice.

  7. I think this is completely true. Whenever I get no writing done (which is most of the time), it's because I'm prioritizing something else over writing, things that, if I wanted to write badly enough, I would've been able to put aside. Which makes me feel very guilty, but I'm trying to establish a routine (spend less time on Twitter :)) and hopefully, I can get some writing done each day. :]

  8. That was awesome. What an inspiration. Yeah, I struggle to make the time EVERY SINGLE DAY. It's hard. But I do it because I love it. Some days (weeks, months sometimes) I don't fit it in. But I tell myself that is okay, because this is a lifelong dream. Luckily I don't have to train for the Olympics in 4 years! I just have to keep writing. :)

  9. Quite the emotion-ridden post. You say it quite powerfully.


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