Thursday, August 6, 2015

How We Spend Our Time

Sparkle Abbey welcomes Lori Rader-Day

Today we're thrilled to welcome our friend, the brilliant, talented, and award-winning author, Lori Rader-Day who shares her thoughts on how we spend our time. 

Take it away, Lori...

Big news. I have all the time there is. I’m newly out on my own as a full-time writer for a while and now I’m considering the ways in which a break from the 9-to-5 grind might be used to its fullest potential.

Do I set off on a multi-state bookstore tour?

Do I offer to visit every library in the state?

Do I visit all the friends I haven’t seen in two or more years, ever since I’ve had to start using all my day-job vacation time for book conferences and such?

*deep breath*

There’s a certain itching panic involved in realizing you could do WHATEVER THE HECK YOU WANT. That you have, for possibly the first time ever, the time to focus on making your dreams come true.

I should be doing. I should be going. I should teach here, speak there, offer this, volunteer that.

And yet—what did I want from this time so much that I made the leap in the first place? What was so important to me?

I wanted the time from my time. And not time for more promotions or more blog posts (with apologies to Sparkle Abbey, for hosting me today). Time for writing.

So. Writers retreats. Should I apply for a two-week residency somewhere? I’ve never had two weeks to rub together before. It’s attractive—coming off two years without a vacation, though, I wonder if I would panic at that vast amount of alone time.

A few of my friends have taken mini-retreats to write. Book a hotel room, get away for a day or two, scribble. That sounds pretty good, too, and less of a commitment. But am I the only person who’s stayed in a hotel recently? They don’t exactly inspire me, and sometimes you get neighbors who have booked a hotel room for distinctly different pleasures than silence. Ahem.

What I want to do is create a daily retreat practice at home, based in reality and therefore perhaps more sustainable over the time I have off work and into whatever I do in the future. I know it’s crazy, but I like my husband and dog. I don’t want to spend two weeks away from them. I want to do the morning dog walk and then take my husband away from his desk for dinner. Instead of escaping from my life, what I want to do is escape into it—live it deeply and with an attention that I haven’t had in a while. Instead of retreating, actually, I want to charge forward.

So? No solutions here. Only thoughts that haven’t quite coalesced into a plan. If anyone has ideas on how to make the best use of time—golden, precious time—leave a comment. I’d love to know how you used your time best or would spend a few months of freedom if you got the chance.

By the way, thanks for spending the time you have on this post. Anne Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” We all just want to spend our days, our hours, our minutes on things that matter. I wish that for everyone.

Thanks so much for stopping by today, Lori. And readers, please be sure to check out Lori's latest book Little Pretty Things. Kirkus Reviews says: “Rader-Day…writes absorbingly.” 

We agree!

Lori Rader-Day’s debut mystery, The Black Hour (Seventh Street Books, 2014), received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal and was a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her second mystery, Little Pretty Things, is out now. Her short stories have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Time Out Chicago, Good Housekeeping, and others. She lives in Chicago with her husband and spoiled dog and is active in the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter and a member of Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers.


  1. First, keep writing excellent books like your first two. Second, realize you are entitled to make some time for yourself. The problem is finding the right balance and being hungry enough to put in the hours to write. I walked away from my day job almost two years and can show two published books, a draft in revision, and fifteen short stories that found homes. Another writer left her day job at the same time and she has nine books (three series) either published or under contract. She is active in organizations, like I am, and she exercises, cooks, and regularly does other things I occasionally dabble in. The main difference is her dedication to her writing versus mine to solitaire. You'll find your happy medium- good luck

  2. What you'll find out is time is shorter when you no longer are working full time. I can't get nearly as much done as I did when I had so many other commitments. But it is still better--and yes, you need to spend time with your husband and other loved ones too.

  3. Ahhhh!! I'm the Captain of My Own Ship! Once the panic subsides you'll be fine and then you will surprisingly find yourself too busy. Good luck!!

  4. What an interesting post (and author). Actually, this is exactly what I dreamed of when I gave up the full-time corporate job to freelance and write fiction. I hoped for a work/life balance. The problem has been that it doesn't quite work at like that - either too much work and not enough time to write or not enough work and too much time to write. I'm still working on striking that balance but I must also say that one inspires the other. Sometimes I miss the interaction I had at work so thank you for reminding me that this flexible time has been the trade-off.