I hear it all the time: “I don’t have time to write.”
First off, let me warn you, this might be a slightly caustic post. I’m in a mood, so if you’re looking for a feel-good article that will tell you it’s okay that you only write a few pages a month, you’ll have to look elsewhere 😉
And secondly, may I just ask why it is most people assume that writers somehow, magically, have more free time than other ‘normal’ people? Most writers work, have families, and have to put food on the table. A lot of writers earn their income from separate day jobs. We have dishes to wash, laundry to do, and events to attend. Kids or spouses to feed. Animals to take care of. TV shows we want to watch (lol!).
We don’t have a bunch of extra time on our hands!
Instead, as writers, we utilize the time we have so we can accomplish what we need to in an orderly time.
And you can too!
- Create a realistic schedule so you’re writing consistently. I know, I know, everyone and their uncle says this about every possible aspect of life. But it really is necessary! Now, that doesn’t always mean creating a specific, hour long segment at the exact same time each day that fits perfectly into your routine (although if you like that kind of thing, go for it!) For me, it simply means giving myself a specific word goal that fits with my lifestyle each day. For instance, some days I’m busier than others. Some days I have events in the evening, others in the morning. To write at the exact same time each day for the same amount of time just isn’t realistic. So, instead, I set a word count goal for each day, then figure in when it would work best. Sometimes I don’t set aside a time until that day (which, I admit, leads to skipping sessions occasionally).
But really, what I want you to take away from this is to write consistently (more on how you can do that here). Even if it isn’t every day, I want you to plan on writing at least three times a week. If you have a lot of free time, it’ll be more. But you shouldn’t write less than twice a week, otherwise you’ll be too ‘out’ of your project and will have troubles getting back into it when the time comes.
- Stop procrastinating by filling your time with distractions and entertainment. Yeah, this one is a bit harsh, and really hard to accomplish. But if every time you sit down to write, you end up browsing social media or watching TV or even binge-cleaning, you’re not going to get much done.
“Okay, but how do I stop?” you may be wondering. Well, there are a few options. I’d recommend:
- Install an app that limits your time on each app. If you’re having troubles keeping time-management on games or social media, this can help you.
- Set yourself a goal before you can play games, browse social media, or watch a show. If you have to accomplish a certain word count or time spent writing before you can play, you’ll be more motivated to get your writing done, rather than procrastinate.
- Keep your browser closed while your write. Sometimes, when I’m having a hard time writing, I have to close my browser and put music on Spotify on my phone. That way, I have to consciously think about opening the web before I get there. It’s not fool proof, but it helps. Or at least leave social media, mail, or other distracting tabs closed (I need to use the internet for research purposes, so this option works better for me).
- Write what you can. So often, it can be easy to avoid writing because we know we only have time to write a short amount. I’m here to tell you that …
That’s right, I said it (okay, technically the Rock said it, but you know). Even if you only write a few paragraphs a day, it’s better that than a thousand words every couple of weeks. So instead of beating yourself up for not writing enough (and thus ultimately writing less) focus on doing what you can. The more small victories (e.g. word counts) you accomplish, the more you’ll be able to write in the future.
- Lastly, stay passionate!! The more you enjoy doing something, the more likely you are to make time for it. That’s why we struggle to fit in homework assignments, work tasks, and unwanted social functions, but have little trouble finishing an episode of our favorite tv show or going out to eat at a favorite restaurant. So, pick a project you’re passionate about and stick with it!
Not sure what you’re passionate about? I’ll be writing a blog on that next week, so stay tuned!
Okay, that’s it! Let me know what keeps you from writing in the comments, or drop me a question about scheduling – I’d be happy to answer! (:
J. H. Gates