I spend a lot of my day not writing when I know I should be writing.
I watch A LOT of television, and that, I know, is one of the worst things I can do to myself, tether myself to the boob tube while I should be on my laptop or have a notebook in my hands, scrawling.
Then there are all the other things that go on in life that have to be dealt with — appointments, dinner, homeschooling, spending quality time with my kid, visiting with family and friends…
Sometimes I get to the end of the day and find that I haven’t written anything and it makes me feel awful because I know that if I had just made time, if I had fit in time somewhere for it, I could have written something.
Recently, I came across a quote that was a slap in the face. It woke me up and made my heart beat faster to read it, to really understand it:
“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.
The people who have accomplished some of the greatest feats in the history of the world had as much time in their day to work as you do.
They set their eyes on their dreams and goals and they got to work.
They didn’t sit in front of televisions, for one thing.
But they also did something that a lot of us aren’t doing — they carved out time in their days to do the things that were most important to their growth and discovery so as to keep adding to their great bodies of work.
You HAVE to make time for your writing.
Think of all the things you do in a day and add up your free time. Do you have any? That’s when you should be writing.
Think of all the things you WANT to do in a day…are any of them writing?
Do you want it bad enough to forego some other entertainment or social agenda to put in the time to get down the words?
Are you willing to say NO more often to people and things that demand your time so you can spend more of it honing your craft?
I find that saying NO to doing things other than writing is the best tool in my box.
I have to put aside the time, block out all other distractions, and make it work for me.
If you are going to “make it” as a writer like I want to do, you can’t do what I’ve been doing for the last few months.
The sand in the hourglass is running out for all of us, and we all have to do better.
How you can make more time for writing:
Despite my not being able to always take my own advice, I have some for you.
First, stop watching television, or at least cut your hours of binging in half.
(Except for Stranger Things, go ahead and binge the third season of that.)
Don’t let your time be sucked away by watching someone else’s amazing story unfold in front of you.
You have entire worlds living inside of you, worlds that are waiting and ready to break free of your brain and come out of your fingers onto the page, and that isn't going to happen when you are immersed in someone else's world.
If you want to absorb more stories, then read a book.
You know you should be doing more of that, too, if you want to be a good writer.
Replace your TV time with reading time and you will learn to be a better writer, this is the plain truth.
You CANNOT be a good writer if you don't read regularly. Full stop.
By studying what others have done, you’ll be inspired to write better or be enlightened to what not to do, but either way you’ll be enriching your brain instead of shriveling it.
Say NO more often.
Protect your time. You don’t have to attend every social function, you don’t have to have to watch The Lion King with your kid twice in one day, hell, you don’t even need to make dinner, just order some take out and write more with the time you just saved.
If your friends and family understand and love you, they will support you in your writing endeavors.
They will forgive you for hiding away to get your words out, and they won't begrudge you for it.
Cherish those friends.
Steal time away.
In a word — hide.
If you are childfree or have a spouse to watch your children, go hide in your bedroom and lock the door.
Let someone else deal with life’s little problems and demands for a while, or just ignore them altogether.
Let the laundry sit in the basket, let the dishes rest in the sink.
They’ll be waiting for you when you’ve finished your writing for the day.
Form a writing group.
I have two friends that I get together with every Sunday for three hours to write, and one of those friends meets me every Wednesday morning and we write together from 11–3pm, and making these writing group days a priority has been the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long time.
Not only do you have dedicated time for writing, time that you carve out of your week specifically for it, you will have the support of other people who are on the same journey.
Dedicate time to writing every day.
This one should be a no brainer, but for a lot of people, it is the hardest thing to do.
If you still feel like you are writing into a void or if you aren’t making money with your words, it can be hard to put the work in when you don’t see the immediate returns.
Writing is a long game, and you have to be patient but persistent.
If it’s an hour, or even just a half an hour, anything is better than nothing.
You can do it first thing in the morning with your coffee or right before bed after the rest of the house is sleeping if you have to, but find the time every day.
The time is there.
It’s always been there.
You just have to seize it and use it in the best way possible — by writing your way through it.