How do you find time to write? As it is with many of us who are trying to “become” writers, it nearly always seems to be an uphill struggle to find time in our busy schedule to actually sit down and write. But what’s so “busy” about our schedule that makes finding writing time so difficult? There is a simple answer – practice.
I have learned, through my own experience, that there is plenty of time out there for writing. You’d be surprised how much is truly available once you start to look for it. If your life is anything like mine, it’s established, has a routine, and is fairly well scheduled out in a nice, easy timeline: comfortable. Allow me to demonstrate my point.
I’m 44 years old presently, have a career, a family and, as many of us do, have other interests and hobbies that demand our time. Writing is a fairly new distraction for me. I have been an avid photographer for over twenty-five years. I am also a model railroader and have been a member of my local model railroad club for nearly thirty years. For seven of the last nine years, I also sat on the board of directors as treasurer for a charitable organization. My marriage is approaching nineteen years long with my son having just turned nine. Then there is the bread winning, but ever time consuming creature called my J.O.B. This demands no less than ten hours of my waking day. That encompasses all the time from when my alarm goes off at 4:45 AM, to when I arrive at work before 6:00 AM, until I leave work at 2:30 PM at the earliest. For rounded numbers, let’s just say my job consumes no less than ten hours of my day. I consider myself fortunate that it only takes up that much time. Many of my friends say it is closer to twelve hours each day for them. But that includes folks who spend anywhere from 1-2 hours commuting to their jobs or whom have two jobs.
So there is nearly half a day where none of us should even be considering writing. I know I break the rules some times and work while I’m in a lull or during lunch. But for argument sake, we will covet the time spent at work as purely for work. Now, what happens after work? THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!
Let’s be practical, very few of us have the luxury of being able to go home straight from work these days. There are groceries to buy, errands to run, kids to shuttle between school and soccer (or some other form of extracurricular activity). There’s dinner, homework to help with, showers to take, bills to pay and lawns to mow. By the time all this is done, granted, many of these can be spread out over the week as they don’t all occur every day, where do you find the time to write? Then, we do have to leave some time for sleep. I don’t know too many people who function well on less than 6-8 hours of sleep. They do it, but again, not well.
In my brief existence as a semi-serious writer, I have discovered two really big time consumers that at one time I considered my “relaxation time”, my “unwind time”, or for the seriously self-centered, my “ME time”.
Hey – we all need a little ME time. I don’t deny that. But my ME time consists of watching television or sitting in front of my computer surfing the internet. This sort of mindless entertainment seemed to be the way many people spend their “free time”. It’s easy to get lost in the dribble. But when you add up how much time is spent on these two devises alone (and you can now include your smart phones, Tablets, Nooks, Kindles and other gadgets that allow you to spend limitless hours of doing nothing – curse you Angry Birds!), you have then discovered a well of poorly utilized time.
Instead of sitting watching American Idol, Big Brother, Survivor, The Family Guy and (I shudder to say it) Monday Night Football, sit in front of your computer and use those half-hour, one-hour or multi-hour segments of time to write. That is, after all, what you want to do correct? You want to pen the next great American Novel, well – you can’t do that while watching Bob’s Burgers and the rest of Fox’s Animation Domination line up. All that will do is dominate the time better spent writing your dreams on paper and turn your brain into tapioca.
Let’s look at computer surfing. This is, in my humble opinion, the greatest waste of human life that has ever existed. We’d be more productive watching the grass grow – at least we’d be outside breathing fresh air and getting Vitamin D from the sun (yes – there are arguments about spending too much time exposed outside, but this is my blog and I don’t care). All the time spent surfing porn, searching for coupons, watching more mindless (though sometimes more entertaining than TV) programs on YouTube, is time in front of your computer that would be better spent with a word processor open and you crafting your story into little black pixels on the screen.
Our lives have become so regimented with blocks of time spent doing things for seemingly everyone else but ourselves, that when we do get a chance to breathe many of us choose to become blobs and stare at the TV or computer monitor. I’m guilty of that. It’s nice to turn the brain off from time to time and lose myself is something totally irrelevant. But then that becomes an excuse for not writing.
Recently – I took thirteen days to write AND COMPLETE my first manuscript. It was almost better than sex when I typed THE END for the first time. Thirteen days! That’s all it took for me, a fledgling writer, to put 26,000+ words on paper and tell a story from beginning to end. THIRTEEN DAYS! How did I do it? I avoided television and the internet (except for actual research) during that time and found literally hours per day that would otherwise have been spend vegetating rather than writing. The greatest thing was I still felt as relaxed and rested as I would have been if I sat on my ass to watch TV. I’d dare even say I felt better in general if for no other reason than I was creating something of my own.
It all comes down to discipline. If you want to write – TRULY wish to become a writer, you just have to find the time. It’s easier to do than you’d expect, though I will admit, it’s also hard to let old habits die. Slight rearrangements in your daily life may help, buy a laptop so that while little Johnny is playing soccer, you’re typing away in the bleachers. You don’t even have to go to that expense either as there is still the old fashioned way of writing on paper with a pen or pencil that would allow you to get your thoughts down, at least long enough until you can get to your computer to add them to your manuscript file.
Motivation will ebb and flow and you’ll find yourself slipping back into the TV blob/computer surfing routine if you are not careful. But when you remember how good it felt when you spent thirteen days and wrote your entire story out from “Once Upon a Time” to “They Lived Happily Ever After”, you’ll find yourself looking for that time once again and soon – you’ll be writing your next All American Novel, while the rest of the world tunes in to watch the Kardashians do – nothing.
The more you do it, the easier it will become. I’m still learning that lesson myself, but the point is I am learning that lesson. Finding time to write is becoming less of an effort and less of an excuse to lean on. May you find your time in similar ways. It just takes dedication and practice.