Making Time for Writing

Here are a few things you probably shouldn’t ever say to a writer:
“I would love to write a book, but I’m just so busy.
“You wrote an entire book? How do you have so much free time?!”
“I wish I had time to write a book, too.”

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Are you seeing a common thread here? How many times have you heard people say things like this? How many times have you made such excuses for yourself? This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about this week as I’ve been debating whether or not I want to participate in NaNoWriMo next month, and I’ve found myself coming up with a lot of these excuses for not doing it. Things like, “I don’t have time to write right now,” or “I’ll write something next week…if I can find the time.”

Finding the time. Like the magical Time Fairy is going to show up and just squeeze a few extra hours into my day. Don’t we all wish? Unfortunately, that’s never going to happen.

Here’s the thing: It’s really not so much about finding the time as it is about making it. Any writer who’s really committed to what they’re doing can probably tell you the same thing.

And before anyone jumps in with more excuses, let me just give you a little background information. I’m a mom. I have two little girls who are still at an age where they need and want my attention almost constantly. I’m also in school full-time. Up until a few months ago, I was working 24+ hours a week, too. Before that, I was working full-time. So I get it – I really do. It’s hard to write when you have so many other things on your plate. But it can be done if you’re committed.

Like I said, no magical fairy is going to swoop in and give you more time. If you want to write, you’ve got to make time for it. That’s why writers get a little irritated when people start making the “How do you have time for that?” comments. Of course we don’t just have time for that! We have the same 24 hours in our day that you do, and many of us have a ton of other obligations that take up most of those hours. If you want to have time to write, you’ll probably have to give something else up. Maybe that means cutting some TV out of your life. Maybe it means you spend a lot less time scrolling through Facebook (and let’s be honest – we all probably spend way too much time on Facebook anyway). Maybe that means staying up long after everyone else in the house has gone to bed, or waking up earlier. Maybe you just commit to locking yourself in your room and writing for an hour every day, and you shut your phone off and tell everyone to leave you alone unless someone is dying or the house is on fire.

I realize that some of you already have no time for TV or social media, and you’re already running on a dangerously low amount of sleep. There are other things you can try. If you have a job, sometimes it’s possible to get a few notes jotted down during your lunch break. If you’re in school, you can use the few minutes before and/or between classes to write. (Or, you know, during class…not that I ever do this….well, not all the time, at least.) You can write on the bus or the subway or an airplane. You can write while you’re waiting for an appointment. You can write at your kid’s soccer practice. You can write while you’re standing at the stove stirring the Top Ramen for tonight’s dinner. Are you going to get as much done as if you had a few hours set aside specifically for writing? Probably not. But it’s not really about how much you write. Progress is still progress, no matter how big or small it is.

The point is that if you really want to write a story, you have to Just Do It. ← And I’m leaving this link here for anyone who’s still doubtful or just needs a little extra push in the right direction. It’s a blog post from indie author EJ Fisch, who wrote and published the third novel in her science fiction series in less than a year, and all while finishing up her last year of college. So it can be done, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort. It won’t be easy, but nothing in writing is.

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