ON WRITING: when you have no time
Updated: Nov 10, 2020
So you can't find the time to write? You work full-time, you’re raising three kids, you’re busy with all the events of life--
A truth: no one has time.
No one has time.
You won’t be able to FIND time. Friend, you have to MAKE it.
Make your novel, your music, your art a priority. Don’t tell it no. Learn to say no elsewhere.
How did I write a novel and edit it seventeen times while living a full life? I wrote STARLIGHT pregnant, with a newborn, with two toddlers. As a sister and daughter and friend, while shopping and cooking and cleaning, amidst working out and dragging myself to social events. My kids don’t sleep and they nurse until two years old, so it’s not like I was living a zen life drifting about until I stumbled into ideal moments of creative beauty.
It was chaos ya’ll. Chaos.
I sweat and bled and BATTLED FOR the moments where I could write. I learned: to write, you don’t need a fresh, energized mind. You don’t need the perfect set up and "inspiration." You need discipline and an unyielding determination to write. See ON WRITING: when uninspired for more on this myth.
So, how? How to write when you have no time?
First track how you spend your time for a couple weeks. I believe everyone can find time somewhere. Where can you find 2 hours, 5 hours, 10? If you stop watching TV, would you have 5 more hours a week? If you write 1,000 words an hour that’s a novel in 10 weeks. I’m not advocating speeding along slapping together a novel—STARLIGHT took twelve years from idea to querying—I’m just asking:
How are you using your time?
Determine your priorities. Throw up some boundaries. Make some rules. You’ll probably have to make some sacrifices. I did. I had to CHOOSE my book over friendships, over sleep, over hobbies. Check back for ON WRITING: boundaries & priorities for more on determining what to say no to.
via Ella Luna
Be sure to make your own rules. These were mine and what was necessary to accomplish my goal. You make yours.
· No TV
· No social media
· No unessential social events
· Wake up at 4 am a few times a week
· Write everywhere: dr office, commute, breakfast table, playground, anywhere I had five minutes
· Write at planned time, even if exhausted
· Never cancel writing time for something (i.e. an errand or nap) or someone else
By being thoughtful about how I prioritized my time, I began to see my writing time as sacred. As a gift. And I was thrilled with the privilege to work.
So what rules do you have? Please share. And remember: fight for your priorities. Make a promise to yourself that you won't break. Value yourself.
Books to Read:
This myth of finding time and the discussion of establishing your writing time as sacred is thread through many writing books. I also saw a pattern in successful writers' stories: most didn’t have the luxury of writing full time. They wrote in mornings, on weekends—they made their writing a priority. Here’s a link to my Goodreads Writing Books bookshelf. Below I listed a few books on the topic of priorities and scheduling time.
· THE CROSSROADS OF SHOULD AND MUST: FIND AND FOLLOW YOUR PASSION by Elle Luna "There are two paths in life: should and must. We arrive at this crossroads over and over again. And every day, we get to choose." Inspiration + watercolor images. Playful, yet encouraging.
· THE MIRACLE MORNING FOR WRITERS by Hal Elrod Organized plan and encouragement for structuring your morning.
· DAILY RITUALS: WOMEN AT WORK by Mason Currey Glimpses into the lives and habits of creative, brilliant women
· GIRL, STOP APOLOGIZING by Rachel Hollis This bestseller fell flat for me as I'd already walked the revelations she shares. But if you're struggling with boundaries & priorities & the myth of "finding time," I highly recommend GIRL, STOP APOLOGIZING. It's fun and full of truths.