About 12 years ago, I began to write at 4:00 in the mornings because of my youngest child’s sleeping troubles. Back then, I was inconvenienced and annoyed.
Eventually, though, I realized I had unwittingly stumbled upon the magical time of day to write (for me). My creativity responded to these early morning calls for attention with gusto. I could easily spend a solid 90 minutes on my fiction before the house stirred and I was on Mom duty.
Eighteen months passed before my son slept through the night, and I didn’t need to be up at four am anymore. However, because I’d found a beautiful writing block of time, I continued with the schedule, going on thirteen years now.
This is my choice. I made this choice and stick with it because it fulfills one of my writing intentions. Making the time to write.
As a self-proclaimed Time Warrior, I am the first to say that how we structure our day is largely by choice. True, there are interruptions we cannot avoid, situations we cannot control. Grumpy moods and writers block and non-oomphy story ideas. But most of us choose how our free time is spent. Gaps of time in between duties and responsibilities. Hours in the late evening or early morning.
Writing for fun should be treated as such. Stressing out about how often you write or how many words you’re able to jot down in an hour doesn’t really fit the needs and desires of a writer writing for fun.
But if you have a story idea that you would like to develop further and share with others, then that will require a bit more of a work standard. Now you are writing with a purpose, to inspire, entertain, and/or inform an audience.
Writing with a purpose is not simple. It’s actually scary and intimidating. To successfully write with a purpose, you have to be disciplined. You have to set aside a writing block. You have to know what your story is about. You have to have your tools and equipment in fine working order. You have to do research and understand how to put a story together.
Writing is hard work, and I think it sometimes behaves like an overbearing boss or an errant child. There are days you simply don’t have the strength or patience to deal. But if you want to keep your job or you want to rein in that precocious child, then you have to make some tough choices.
Making time to write is one of the toughest challenges writers face. Tougher than writing a logline or a query. It’s because you are always faced with a choice of doing something else instead. Sleep. Clean the house. Go out with friends. Those “insteads” are often kinder to our spirits and therefore a more favorable choice.
If you can wrangle time, you are setting yourself up for success.
How much time do you spend writing?
Over a couple of weeks, record how much time you devote. Take it one step further, and record the number of words you write each time.
Do you wish you spent more time to write?
Tune into your emotions and ask yourself if you’re feeling fulfilled. Some writers are perfectly content with fifteen minutes a day, while others need more.
What prevents you from spending as much time as you want?
Make a list of all the obstacles in your way. Be honest with your own efforts. If you know that you spend an extra five minutes on Facebook, own that. Five minutes every day adds up to … well, a lot of minutes! If that’s you, then go back to question #2—do you wish you spent more time?
What could you do to positively impact your writing?
Writing requires more than the act of writing. Good writers need to be well-read, engage with other writers, research their subject material, and be savvy about the industry—to name a few. Think about writing-related activities that would help you with the craft while also relieving the pressure you might feel about the physical act of writing.
Here’s the deal: Making time for your writing requires a physical as well as an emotional effort. If your heart isn’t into upping your game, then adjusting your schedule will not make a difference.
Every writer will have an approach that works best for them, and you have to find your own best process. Even before you get going on that, you really need to make a commitment, a pledge to your craft.
Part of this pledge requires identifying yourself as a writer, but the other part is having a clear understanding of your writing intentions.
If you want to add writing into your life with the intention of finishing a project that you can share with others, then what kind of a relationship do you think is required, in terms of time?
Again, your answer will be what fits your life best. But it’s an important piece of the puzzle. The process needs to lead appropriately and logically to the end result. Someone who wants to become a doctor isn’t going to spend time going to school for law, right? But he might spend some of his time reading medical journals to learn what’s new in the field. A kid on the football team will spend his free time practicing football, not knitting, and he might spend some time in the weight room to bulk up.
Similarly, a writer who is inspired to craft a story with the intention of publishing it someday shouldn’t spend all of her free time playing video games. She could, reasonably, spend some of her free time reading handbooks on the craft or joining a writers group or even exercising—activities that positively impact her writing.
The bottom line, though, is whether or not you WANT to make the time for your writing. Creativity always starts with passion. No one is going to sit you down and give you whatever you need to create your project. All of that comes from within you, including how much time you spend.
Do you want to make time to write? What are some ideas you have to make that happen?