I have noticed an unfortunate commonality of whining in the writers’ groups I attend. Mainly, the persistent insistence, by some people, that they have no time to write. Whenever I hear that malarkey I clearly recall those times in my past when I have felt the same.
But there truly are no times in our lives when we have no time to write. There are simply times when we let the world intrude, and silence our muse. That’s something experience, and my husband, taught me to overcome.
When I began writing in my teens I would have a desire to tell some story, and I would set aside time to do it. Remember that feeling? Of having all the time in the world? Of every day being filled with hours? Going someplace quiet, away from your family and friends, and just reading, or writing?
You have the same time now, you’ve just forgotten how to use it. And you may have filled it up with some stuff that needs to be jettisoned.
I know, I know. You’re starting to mutter – what does she know? I have a full time job! Responsibilities! A family! Well, let me assure you…I have those things too. But I’ve learned to put my art first, and to work around them.
Now, I don’t mean to say I would watch my house burn down, or not take the dog to the vet if he needed to go. There are things that must be attended to, or all hell breaks loose. But it is possible to squirrel away some time for my writing. And you can to. If you truly want to write. (There are those who simply want to have written – I can’t help those folks. Or wait, yes I can… Hire a ghost writer.)
One of the most annoying comments I hear people who are not writers make is: “I’d like to write someday, if I could find the time.” Ahrggg! This used to make me boil. (Now, the new, more tolerant me, just nods sagely.) Because, as I’ve said, I have a job (full time) a family, a dog, a house, a car that sometimes needs maintenance, a pool to be cleaned, a garden to be weeded, friends that want to have coffee, emails to read and answer, doctor appointments, groceries to be shopped for – and yet I still find time to write. You know why? Because I AM, first and foremost, A WRITER!
Yup, I write, that’s what I do. And my family knows it. Even the dog knows it. They know my schedule. They take it serious, because I take it serious.
Here’s how it works.
First off: be sure you want to write. Do you really, really want to? Is it a burning desire that sometimes wakes you from a sound sleep with a story sounding in your head like a brass gong? Because that’s what it takes.
Next: be willing to take a close look at how you are presently spending your time.
Are you running around, willy nilly, trying to be everything to everyone? Do everything for everyone? But leaving nothing for your SELF?
Are you possibly wasting a lot of hours in front of the TV every evening? Does watching Glee or American Idol mean more to you than it should?
“But I’m too tired by the end of the day to write,” I hear you saying under your breath.
Yes, me too. That’s why I don’t write at night. My personal preference is to sleep when I’m tired. I do it instead of watching TV. I go to bed by 9 pm and set my alarm for 5 am and write in the morning. Before going to work. Before doing anything.
Here’s my morning: Shut off alarm, use bathroom, don robe and socks, make tea, sit down at laptop, write.
“But I can’t get up that early.” Well, I know a lot of writers who write at night. The average person needs 8 hours of sleep out of every 24. That leaves 16. When you choose to do it is up to you. If you want to write at night then you are going to have to save some of yourself for that time. Maybe take a quick snooze after work, then forego the TV with the family and shut yourself in your writing space, and write. (Writing spaces is another blog: one of my first places was the kitchen table, before my children awoke at 6 am. I wrote my first published story there. Another was a folding table in a storeroom. It doesn’t need to be fancy for me, just private.)
I have written while waiting for a client who showed up late. Used to be I would simmer and stew if someone kept me waiting. (Wasting my precious time!) Instead, I pulled out my trusty notebook, licked the lead tip of my pencil (ahh, you say, that explains it!) and began a story which ended up becoming one I am very proud of today.
Do you ever get stuck waiting? At the doctor’s office? In traffic? At the DMV? Have that notebook ready. Be prepared for your muse when she strikes! Take notes. Jot down a few lines to get you going when you sit down later that evening or the next morning.
Note: Dan Brown gets up and writes at 4 am. Diana Gabaldon writes from 11 pm to 4 am.
Lastly: you must train others to take your writing serious.
How does one train one’s family, and by extension the world, to take your writing time serious, you ask? By taking it serious yourself. That’s right. It’s a covenant you make with yourself. It’s as simple as that. Do it. Every day. At the same time. No excuses. Door closed. Ass in seat. Fingers on keyboard or pen in hand. Write.
You don’t wait for your creativity, It waits for you. SHOW UP. The rest is easy.
If you really want to write – if you are, in fact, a writer – you will set aside time to write. And if you don’t, can’t, won’t?
Well then, maybe you just admire those of us who are, do, will.
And I’m fine with that.
“You have the sight now Neo, you are looking at the world without time.” —The Oracle in The Matrix
Do you have a special way of finding time to write? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to tell me all about it in the comments section below.