In a recent comment, Barbara H. posed a great question about finding time to write. She said: I’d love to hear about writers’ schedules, how they make time for writing. Once when I heard Elisabeth Elliot speak and had a book signed by her afterward, the only question I could think to ask was, “How do you find time to write all these books?” She replied, “I don’t find time, I make time.” I know writers have to navigate around real life to make time to write, and I’d love to hear how.
Let me start by saying, sometimes there are seasons where we just can’t write. I put writing aside for seven years after my twins were born. I was so exhausted and busy that I literally could not write a single word, not even to journal.
But, for most of us, those seasons don’t last forever. Once we’re through the dry season, then we face the challenge of integrating writing (or other hobbies) into regular life which is often filled to overflowing with all kinds of other responsibilities.
Here are a few simple truths that help me navigate around real life to find time to write:
1. We can’t put off our writing simply because we’re busy. Let’s face it, we’re always going to be busy. Once we’re done with our current busy stage of life, we’ll start the next busy one. We’ll find different things to do, places to go, and activities that will fill our time.
I’m learning that I can’t wait until I cross off everything else on my to-do list before I start my writing time every day. Because honestly, my to-do list is never-ending. Instead, I have to choose to ignore it for a little while each day.
2. Schedule writing time. We need to pencil into our daily planner our writing time the same way we schedule appointments into our calendar. I block out time in the morning, my most productive time of the day, and I reserve my best energy for my writing.
3. When we sit down to write, we have to use that time wisely. This is something I struggle with constantly. During my scheduled writing time, I have to battle against the urge to check email or twitter or facebook.
It’s all too easy to tell ourselves, we’re only going to read a couple of blogs before we start working on our WIPs. And the next thing we know, twenty minutes out of our coveted hour of writing time is gone.
Whether we have 30 minutes or an hour or a day, we have to make a conscious choice to turn off the distractions, tune out the noise, and focus on the page that lies before us.
4. Finally, we have to show up at the screen, even when we don’t feel like it. Ever notice how young children get excited about new activities?
Before my youngest daughter started piano lessons, she was waiting anxiously for the day when she would finally get to play the piano like her siblings. But now that she’s been doing it a while, the newness has worn off and there are days when she would much rather do something else than sit down and practice.
And the same is true of most writers. We all feel that initial excitement when we start writing or when we begin a new book. But eventually the thrill wears off under the daily pressure to write something.
If we write only on the days we feel like it, we either won’t finish our book or it will take forever. The only way to complete a book is to write on the days we feel like it AND to force ourselves to write on the days we absolutely don’t want to.
What about you? Do you find yourself too busy to make time for the things you love to do? Writers, let’s hear from you! How do you navigate around real life to make time to write?