This month’s topic concerns a common challenge for writers. How do we find time to write? I think it’s fitting to address this during one of the busiest times of the year, the holiday season.
The short answer is that you find the time when you make the time.
OK, stop rolling your eyes. That was the short answer! Continue reading for something more helpful...
As much as we all want to write because it’s fun, we have to plan our writing time as if it were not. You know, like doing the dishes, or keeping the dust mites in your home to a manageable level. And before you scoff and say your day is already overflowing with tasks, you can’t perform miracles, and what does anyone know about your daily struggles...take a deep breath. And then take another one.
You aren’t failing. No one is expecting you to be something you’re not. And I am one hundred percent saying that these thoughts have run amok in my own mind (sometimes all at once.)
I overcome them (read: daily), and so can you. Here are three ways how:
Plan when you can.
You will not always have time to formulate a 20-step plan 3-6-12 months ahead of your next project. Give yourself a congratulatory pat when you do, but learn to appreciate shorter, more frequent brainstorming exercises.
One often-overlooked time ripe for the planning stages of writing is when you first wake up. If you find comfort staying under the covers for an extra five minutes, but can’t shut out the feeling that you could be “doing” something with those free moments, why not do both? Keep a notebook and pencil by your bed to jot down that exciting news you want to tell your newsletter subscribers about. Or, grab your phone and Google search name generators to help bring your characters closer to life.
If staying in bed for even a moment past your alarm clock (whether mechanical, biological, or ‘other’) isn’t an option, then use the passive times you have.
Everyone stops to use the bathroom, eat, or travel. It is entirely possible to shove tacos down your gullet while figuring out which plot twist your readers won’t see coming. I promise <shoving hard shell carnage aside>.
Call it work, because it is.
There are people who will not automatically take your ‘at-home job’ seriously. Whether you reinforce their misconceptions is up to you, and often, you won’t realize you’re even doing it. To combat this bad habit, practice saying the following while getting ready in the morning: “This is my job. I am a business owner and provide a product. Some even consider it a service. Just because it is performed at home does not make it any less of a job.” Believe it yet? If not, repeat it until you do. No one will take it seriously if you don’t take it seriously first.
Isn’t that kind of harsh, Rose? No! Invalidating your hard work is by far the greater offense. Moving on...
We are often judged by monetary success, and if you are a new author, the likelihood of your first novel providing financial freedom, much less rave-review success, is rare. The second one isn’t likely to bring it either, too, come to think of it. Perseverance through sweat, tears, and time (along with a little luck), will best lead you there. So,what happens in the meantime?
If you’re sacrificing for your art (i.e. living the starving artist lifestyle), then be bold. Tell people you are going all-in and that you appreciate their encouragement and support. Whether it’s your partner, your friends and family, or complete strangers, demand the same time that they receive for their work. Set up working hours—whatever is manageable for your situation—and then inform others of your schedule like you would for any job.
You’ll be amazed how much more time you can map out for writing just by implementing this in your day-to-day life.
Similarly, if you’re in a spot where writing must remain a back-alley-type endeavor when all other demands on your time have been met, plan carefully and fight like a beast to preserve it!
Write when you’re at your best.
It just makes sense to write when you are at your sharpest. If your mind doesn’t fully awaken until the afternoon and your third cup of coffee, then why attempt your 1,500-word count at 7:00 a.m., right? Unless you really like rewrites. But wait, Rose, I thought you said to write in the morning?
No, I suggested early morning as a time you can use for planning your writing. That’s an important distinction.
I’ll make another one, too.
The planning process needs to account for everything unique to you and your situation. Children’s sleep or school schedules, animals that wake you up to meet their needs, or an inability to sleep past 6:30 a.m. are all examples. If you have a partner that works away from home, then timing your work hours can be even trickier. It may require meal prepping for the week on Sundays, or an agreement that during certain days/times, specific blocks of time are set aside for you to write while they take care of the household responsibilities.
Again, refer to the aforementioned point. You have every bit the rights to time and space to work as someone who works outside the home. While their time is treated as a given, however, yours may require some strong-arming and creativity to achieve. It can be done!
If your home life doesn’t involve significant strains on your time, then your challenges may lie in learning to ignore distractions and your own inner doubts. Those are all valid concerns and will make perfect topics for another day to give them their proper due.
For now, everyone else that feels they must steal time from something (or someone) else and struggles with that guilt, please, take a breath (yes, I believe strongly in these for stress management.)
Your dreams and your time matter. Your loved ones do, too.
However, working toward financial freedom takes time and is a multi-step process.
Allow yourself the time to take those steps.
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