Often I hear someone say, “I wish I could find the time to write.” Folks, writers don’t “find” time to write. They create it. They set aside two or three hours every day, or every few days, whatever it is, to devote to writing. Full-time writers write full time. Part-time writers make time to write in the evenings or on the weekends, whenever they aren’t working at something else.
And believe me, writing is work. Approach your writing as a job. Schedule it and put discipline behind the effort. Writing is also art, so make space for creation. Sometimes your writing requires an hour of staring out the window, or walking a couple of miles on the beach to work out the scene that is formulating in your head.
Finally, writing is craft. So you have to work at getting better at writing not just by writing, but by reading and learning from other writers. Attend workshops and conferences. Take a writing course. Then practice what you learn.
How do you make time? There are any number of techniques for scheduling writing time. First, look at your life and decide what you’re willing to devote to it. Are you willing to give up TV on weeknights? No? Then maybe it’s the second round of golf each weekend. Maybe you can get up an hour earlier each day. When my daughter was very small, I used to get up at 5:30 a.m. and write for an hour, before the rest of the household was awake.
It really does mean sacrificing something. And I might add if it’s not a sacrifice, it’s not worth doing. Writing has to mean something to you. A good gauge of that is what you are willing to give up to pursue it.
Chuck Palahniuk, who has written 14 books, including Fight Club, talks about his “egg timer” method in this essay on “13 Writing Tips.” Set an egg timer for an hour or half-hour and then write until it chimes. It’s a way to force your brain into writing mode.
I use a variation of this: I pour myself a cup of tea and promise myself I won’t stop writing until the tea is gone. Usually I stay at my desk well past the last sip and finish whatever I’ve started. Soon I’ve written a blog post or another scene in my novel or a chapter of my memoir.
I’d love to hear of other techniques that work for you. Let me know and I’ll compile them into a future post. Now, it’s time for another cup of tea.