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?
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?
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.