Halloween is without a doubt my favorite holiday of the year. I love the all the decorations that go up, the costumes, the candy. The overall feel of spookiness that permeates the air is quite simply intoxicating. You get all the horror movies to come on TV, from the cult classics like Hellraiser to the slashers like Friday the 13th to the thrillers like The Silence of the Lambs. Even the great Halloween movies for kids is great. We watched Hocus Pocus with my son the other day and he loved it. And I regularly watch The Nightmare Before Christmas to relive my childhood. You’ve got haunted houses left and right, along with haunted mazes and hay rides. Heck, they even have Zombie Paintball now.
Everything builds up to one joyous night of scares and trick-or-treating. We’re planning to go with some friends and take my son around a neighborhood in St. Louis. And one of the joys is dressing up. So we were walking into Walmart last weekend to get my son a costume. He’s been watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates recently and says “Pirate” all the time. So, we figured a pirate costume was bound to happen, which it did. We even got him a little sword and hat to go with the costume.
But here’s the problem. As we’re walking past the Halloween section (3 small aisles) to continue our shopping, I see the Christmas section. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Christmas? It’s a week before Halloween! We still have Halloween and Thanksgiving to go before Christmas even comes around. Why does Walmart already have Christmas decorations out? And not just a few decorations. Where Halloween got 3 aisles, Christmas gets a section bigger than the toy and electronics sections combined.
Now, look, I understand the revenue companies make off Christmas sales is exorbitant, way bigger than Halloween and Thanksgiving. Probably bigger than the two combined. But what happened to showing some respect for those holidays and the people that love them. I mean, come on. Like I said Halloween is my favorite holiday. And Thanksgiving is my wife’s. But it’s like we skip right over those as quick as possible and move on to Christmas with its shining lights, wrapping paper, and gifts, gifts, gifts!
Halloween used to be a time when you embraced the mystery of the world. When you experienced just a little bit of terror in order to break up the monotony of the year. Halloween is the kick off for the holiday season, not something to be brushed over so we can move on to “more important” holidays. I mean, come on folks, how hard is it to just wait a little longer. I’d be willing to be that if you waited until the day after Thanksgiving to start selling Christmas stuff, i.e. the dreaded Black Friday, you will still make a killing in sales. Why can’t we just enjoy Halloween for right now, instead of looking forward past it?
I’m finishing up my masters right now from Seton Hill University and to be honest I couldn’t be happier. I’ve received both of the required “passes” from my two mentors and now it’s time to coast to January. But by no means has it been an easy road. I was talking with some friends from my undergraduate days the other day and one of them asked “How do you find the time to write?” I stopped for a moment and really had to collect my thoughts on that.
It’s not the first time I’ve heard that question. I get it from students, friends, co-workers all the time. And to be honest, it sure as hell isn’t easy. I work a full-time job at my alma-mater, Washington University in St. Louis, plus I have a two year old and a wife who I love spending time with. So yeah, to be completely frank, finding time to write is the hardest thing to work into my daily routine. But writing is my career, not my job, and I want to put the time in.
When I first started writing, I wrote whenever I felt like it. I’d get inspiration right when I got done with class and spend an hour outside writing. Or I’d be in class and be scribbling “notes” when I was actually writing a new scene. The worst times was when it’d be 1:00 am and my mind would be buzzing with ideas. I wouldn’t be able to sleep until I got out of bed and put pen to paper (I really do enjoy writing in my journal more than typing.)
The problem with writing whenever inspiration struck was that I’d often go days or weeks without writing a single word. That’s no way to work on your craft. It wasn’t until I started grad school that I got my act together and began using my time more wisely.
So you ask how do I find the time to write? Well, I use a few different methods that might help others out:
- Carry a journal… everywhere. This is perfect for those moments of inspiration throughout the day. When I get to work, I pull it out of my backpack and set it right next to my computer, just in case something a student says or some random thought pops into my head.
- Lunch Breaks are key. I get an hour for lunch every day at work. And it only takes me about twenty minutes to eat my lunch. (Thank you 15-minute high school lunches for training me to inhale my food.) So that leaves me with about 40 minutes of extra time during my lunch break. I’ve gotten so much writing done during these forty minute breaks. That’s how I’m writing this post right now.
- Set a certain time to write. I’m sure you’ve heard the advice that writers should write every day. I’d say that you should pick a time every day in order to write and stick to it. This primes your mind to be ready to write during those set blocks. For me, it’s about 9 to 11 or 12 every night after my son has gone to sleep and I’ve spent a little time with my wife. But others do early in the morning before they go to work. Some write as soon as they get home from their day job. It doesn’t really matter what time you pick as long as you pick a time and stick to it every day.
These are only a few suggestions. Each writer is different and should figure out what works best for them. But following this schedule, I get about 3-4 hours of writing in every day and that has really kept me going. And the more writing I have done, the easier it has been to write during these blocks and the faster new material has flowed onto the page. Hope this helps someone.
What about you guys? Does anyone else have suggestions or strategies that have worked well for them to get writing done?
As I approach the end of my Masters of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, I’m realizing that blogging needs to become a normal part of my everyday life as a writer. Not only does it keep me writing and get the creative juices flowing, but it also connects me with readers on a more intimate level. This is a chance for readers of my work to get to know me a little better and for me to pass along whatever wisdom I may have picked up along the way. So with that being said, it’s time for a reboot.
In the future, I’m going to be covering many different aspects of life as a writer and father and citizen of the world. Topics for posts will range from book reviews and writing advice to raising a son and the crazy things he does to working in higher education and living in the increasingly global community our world is becoming. Oh, and expect a fair amount of discussion and pictures of tattoos as well, probably my favorite form of artistic expression. And St. Louis has so much wonderful artwork walking around on the street that I will be sharing with everyone.
Enjoy and thanks for visiting. Feel free to contact me with any questions via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my Facebook page.
My second tattoo, a silver dragon running up my left side