Sometimes after people learn I’m a writer, they confess to me in private they have a book inside them. They dream about it and long to make that happen.
I know others who talk a lot about writing. They post writerly quotes on social media, links to publishing articles and always know the latest industry buzz. Another set are voracious readers; they can discuss a variety of cool topics or brainstorm story ideas. They love the whole literary scene.
What all these folks share in common is…
They’re not writing.
What Not Writing Looks Like
Talking about writing is not writing.
Reading is not writing.
Outlining is not writing.
Okay the last one is, but not excessively so. Writers write.
Stop talking. Start doing.
Time will Tell
We all have the same twenty-four hours. Dreaming of writing is easy. Making yourself sit down and do it, is not.
“How you spend your time is how you spend your life.” I love this quote by Carol Lloyd, author of Creating a Life Worth Living. The book is several years old (1997) both still full of applicable advice on how strike a balance between a creative life, as well as life with sanity, happiness and financial solvency. Lloyd offers down-to-earth solutions and concrete tasks for achieving these goals.
There’s nothing mystical or magical about writing. It’s work — hard work.
However, most of us could scrounge up 15 minutes each day to write. Maybe more with practice.
How to Steal Time to Write
Here are a few suggestions to help you squeeze out more time for the page:
*Cut back on social media or ditch it altogether — why build a platform when you’re not creating anything for others to read?
*Write first thing in the morning, or late at night — I love this Write Practice guest post on the topic: The Ideal Schedule to Become a More Productive Writer.
*Form an accountability group — there’s something powerful when you tell others, “I’m gonna do this,” then do it.
*Write during your lunch hour or coffee breaks — John Grisham wrote during his courtroom breaks, and he’s done okay (275 millions books sold).
*Write on the weekends, or on your day off — being a weekend novelist is better than none at all.
*Write, even when you cannot write — while you’re stuck in traffic, or folding laundry…think about how solve plotting problems, ideas for blog posts, agents to query.
*Carry a notebook with you wherever you go — jot down notes or plot out scenes. Many phones have a voice recorder for ideas or writing To Do's. Use what you have, wherever you are.
*Write in spurts — don’t think you must have two hours of uninterrupted time. Steal five minutes here and there. It all adds up.
Why Don’t You Write?
When I explain to these wannabe writers there’s nothing extra special about me. I wanted to write more than anything else, so I made it a priority. I started writing. I ask them, “Why don’t you write?”
Many tell me about their scheduling conflicts and other problems. Some of them are quite legitimate, while others are just excuses.
The truth of why most of you don’t write as much as you want (or at all) is you’re afraid.
You worry your work isn’t good enough. You think no one will ever want to read what you wrote. You’re afraid of success or failure, or both.
Yeah, me, too. Join the club. Fear is the #1 enemy of writers and masks itself in a variety of ways: doubt, perfectionism, procrastination, self-sabotage, etc.
4 Writing Facts
I hope these four truths help you see the reality of writing and encourage you to make more time for your craft:
- In the beginning, you may not be very good. It's normal.
- If you practice, you will get better.
- Regardless of #2, you will still get rejected. You’ll survive. You don’t think so, but you will.
- If you stick with writing and persevere despite doubt and rejections, you will achieve some form of success.
Will it be publication?
I don’t know what the future holds for you, but I do know writers have more options available to you than ever before. It's exciting.
All this comes down to one simple question:
How important is your writing to you?
Don’t tell me the answer. Show me. It’s the WHY you do or do not write.
Because how you spend your time is how you spend your life.
How do you use or abuse time to write? Think about it and let us know in the comments section.
For fifteen minutes, write a scene with a person struggling to be any kind of creative (writer, painter, dancer, entrepreneur, etc.).
When your time is up, share your practice in the comments section. And if you share, please be sure to give feedback to your fellow writers.