Finding Time to Write
On any given day I get to talk to a good number of and in the course of conversations I often talk about novel writing. At least four out of five people will respond to this by saying that they would love to write a book but they just don’t have the time.
I don’t buy that.
We all lead busy lives. We all have commitments and obligations. There will always be a job to go to and kids to raise and bathrooms needing to be scrubbed and groceries to be brought and face book and television and so on and so on.
My good friend Steven Harper has one of those busy lives. He works full time, actually he is a teacher so he works more than full time. He is a single dad of three and has a special needs child, and still manages to write two novels a year. If he can find the time so can you.
It’s all a matter of priorities. You need to move your book writing dream up to the top of your priorities list. Maybe not number one but defiantly in the top five. Why? You need to have a serious commitment to writing your novel and writing it every day. Think about your priorities right now. Can you fit 7-10 hours a week in? If you have to let something go that is not high on your priority list, do it.
Start by looking at all the wasted time in your day. And yes I am sure you have wasted time – after all you are reading this blog and that tells me you have time to spare. We all waste a lot of time doing things that we don’t really need to or doing things that are just unimportant. Consider how much time you spend each week watching television. If you are the average American you spend four to five hours per day sitting in front of the boob tube. Are reality television shows really that important to you? And be honest, of all the shows you watch how many do you REALLY enjoy? Maybe a couple. Cut your TV viewing time, even by half, and you will open up huge amounts of writing time.
What about all the time you spend on the internet? If you are like me it is potentially a lot of time. But ask yourself – do you really need to see another cute kitten video? Will your friends think you were in a horrible accident if you don’t update your facebook status every fifteen minutes? I’m guessing that answer to both is no.
The biggest time thief I have found is the attitude of the people around you. How often have you been writing only to be interrupted by someone who seems to think you are free because you are “just writing”? I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve hear that. It’s annoying. Now it would be easy to blame these people for not understanding just how important but it would be wrong. The fault sits squarely on your shoulders, not theirs. Why? Because we act as if our writing time isn’t important. We take phone calls and run errands and visit with people and all during our precious writing time. When you do this you are sending the message that you don’t value your own writing time. And if you don’t value it why should anybody else?
You need to put your foot down, first with yourself and then with those people around you. Claim your writing time and make it important. Defend it. Start thinking of writing time as a second job. So instead of telling your loved ones you are writing, consider saying you are working and will be free at a specific time. It takes a little will power to let phone calls go to voice mail and to shut off Facebook but in the end it is worth it because you will have recognized that you’re writing is valuable time to you.
I have a writing friend who set her foot down with her family. Whenever she heard the plaintive wail of “Moooom” her response was to say “unless the dog is on fire I’m busy.” He reports that the first few times she did this she felt horrible, like she was the world’s worst mother. But in a few days her kids got the message that unless it’s important don’t bother mom when she’s working. She also says that it took her much longer to train her husband to respect her writing time.
Stake out your writing time. Claim it and guard it. If you aren’t spending time writing then you will never be a writer.