In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Thursday, July 14, 2011

In My Words: Is There Ever Enough Time to Write?

So, all you writers out there, here's the question: Are you finding enough time to write?
Me neither.
I've been chatting with a new writer. She has a full time job and a family. With all of her commitments, she has one day a week to write. One day. Recently she asked me this question: Is it possible to be published with such a limited amount of time dedicated to that venture?
My answer?
Sure. Not anytime soon--but maybe sometime in the not-too-near future.
Every writer fights the clock. Every writer confronts the reality that there are never enough hours in the day to devote to writing. You have a family who wants to see you. Or friends. You have to eat (or at least make a couple of pots of coffee.) Pay bills. Exercise. (Really, exercise is not optional.) Sleep. Maybe feed your dog or cat or bird or bearded dragon. Maybe you have a "real" job and your boss expects you to work, not do research on your historical novel set in the 1700s.
It's the whole "real life" versus writing life conundrum.
Here are a few ways I manage the clock:

  1. Set the alarm clock earlier than normal. Try an hour earlier. Too early? Try 30 minutes. The extra time is writing time--nothing else.No surfing the Net, no reading email, no updating your Facebook status, no writing tweets. 
  2. Set a stopwatch when you're writing. My writing buddy, Lisa Jordan, told me about this great online stopwatch. When I want to stay focused, I set the stopwatch and write until it rings. Nothing else--just write.
  3. Shut the door on the "real world."  I'm fortunate to have a home office where I write and edit. Sometimes I leave the door open. This means "Y'all come on in and interrupt me." I can't complain when my 10-year-old daughter comes in to talk. When I shut the door, this means "Do Not Disturb." My family knows someone better need medical care if they open the door.
  4. Clear your calendar. Becoming a published writer requires commitment. That means saying yes to writing and no to a lot of other things. Take an honest look at your calendar. Are there things you need to step away from? If you're having lunch with friends two or three times a week, you are losing valuable writing time. I'm not saying don't have friends--but maybe do the "let's do lunch" thing once a week. Or once every other week.
  5. Make the world--and everything else--go away. Turn off your phone.Shut down TweetDeck. And Facebook. And your email. Distractions will derail your writing. The limited time you'd set aside to finish that chapter will be gone--and all you've have to show for it is a tweet, an updated Facebook status and a fun conversation with your BFF.
In Your Words: How's the time management working out for you? Do you have any tried and true methods for getting enough time to write?

photo by tuareg/

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At 7:47 AM, Blogger Lisa Jordan said...

As a newly published author who also works full time, time management is critical, but I'm finding myself more unbalanced this summer. I'm taking advantage of the nicer weather to do some home projects, but then when I sit to write, I'm not focused. Overwhelmed seems to be my word for this season.

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Summer is always a challenging time for me too. And this summer,we threw in a wedding! My one accomplishment: I managed to hit all my deadlines early so that I have nothing to do during wedding which--which is now!

At 12:12 PM, Blogger Elaine Stock said...

A timely article on time management--sorry about the pun. I work full time (a crazy schedule that involves getting up for work at 3 AM so waking up a 1/2 hour earlier won't do), have started up a pretty active blog, am finally getting out there in social land like Tweeter in an attempt to grow a future audience & make good career connections--and it's all so difficult. I have to keep reminding myself that God is in control and He's guiding me through all this craziness to make it work for His glory. So, I grin & bear it & try not to think how I have zilch time for a real social life or barely enough energy to watch a DVD on the weekends without falling asleep halfway through it. Priorities, I guess.

Now, back to the writing.


At 3:04 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Yeah, Elaine, I understand the "grin and bear it" routine. I also do the "walk away from it" routine sometimes.

At 5:14 PM, Blogger Jeanne T said...

Love your practical suggestions, Beth. This summer has held many unexpected events in it, so writing has really taken a back seat. For the rest of the Break, I'm going to squeeze in time where I can, and be okay with that. Once the kids are back in school, I plan to put an hour 3-4 days a week as an appointment on my phone calendar and then set the timer and write. Maybe I'll even get more in.

I have also backed off of some commitments to open up more time to write. I have such a long ways to go though! Thanks for your encouragements.

At 9:12 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

I agree, Jeanne . . . It's been an unexpectedly busy summer. . .

At 7:30 PM, Blogger Jenny Sulpizio said...

I definitely struggle with this,,,especially since my kiddos are all at home for the summer. The other thing I struggle with is the fact that I want to spend my "free time" (ha!), writing but I also need to spend time in prayer as well. What's a girl to do? Needing to have time for kids, work, God, writing, and that pesky housework means that I need more hours in the day.

So glad I'm not alone...


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