For a lot of us writers working a “real job”, finding the time (and motivation) to sit down to write is a chore. Real jobs are exhausting. If you’re anything like me, coming home from a day at the office leaves you wanting two things: food and sleep. That’s right, I just want to eat and go to bed. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of leisure time. When I come home I have three kids, a wife, a dog, and my wife’s cat. Napping has become impossible, and I’d be lucky if there was any food left in the house by the time I got home from work. Of course then there is supper time, bath time, and bed time routines. Hanging out, homework, and, if we’re lucky, a few minutes to catch up with my wife before sleep drags me down into its sweet, sweet depths. Did you notice I didn’t work in any writing time in there? Yeah, about that...
So, finding time to write is hard. Finding time to read is hard. Finding time to work out is hard. Finding time to anything is hard. I hate finding time. Time is like the hide-n-seek world champion. No one has ever found him and they never will. The only reason we think we can find time is because some old man told us he found time to clean his attic that one time. Remember that old man? Yeah, he was a character. Seriously, stop trying to find time. It can’t be done. If you spend all of your time trying to find it, you will only waste the precious little time you already have. How about, instead of finding time, you make time.
Some of you might be giving your computer screen the middle finger right now. Some of you might even be cursing my name, casting it to the bones, readying a voodoo doll. “But,” you may be saying, “Making time and finding time are the same thing.” Well, I respectfully disagree, and who’s writing this blog post anyway?
Listen, no one has time. Everyone is busy with their day-to-day crapola, and it’s just a lot easier to deal with that than it is to add one more thing to the agenda. So, make the time. Make the time is an act of will. It’s a struggle, a challenge; something that you have to wrestle into submission. It’s as much of an accomplishment as the act of writing. But, how is it done?
There are a lot of ways to make time, it’s just about finding the method that works for you. Stephen King, in his seminal On Writing, talks about how he treats writing as a 9-5 job. He goes on to say that he sets himself up to write as if he were going to work for the day. Taking breaks and lunches as if he were in an office setting. It’s his way of getting the work done. Obviously most people are not at Stephen King’s level, but it gives you an idea of how people schedule their writing time. I’m not a successful writer like Stephen King, but I manage.
I didn’t come up with my strategy overnight, I had to figure it out as I went; I had to put in the work. My strategy is built around goals. I set a word count and try to meet that word count each day. Either that or I set a word count that I want to meet by the end of the month. I like goals; assignments. They give me something to strive and work towards. Sure, it’s not actually making time, but it helps to do that. For instance, I regularly set my daily word count at 1000 words. I want to meet that goal, it motivates me. As I said above, I don’t have a lot of time to spare, so how do I get 1000 words a day? I get creative. If I have to put my kids to bed, I’ll load my WIP on Google Docs and type on my phone while they fade off to dreamland. If I work all day, I’ll try to write on my breaks/ lunch. If I have to pick up the kids at school, I try to bolster my word count while I’m waiting in the car. I do what I have to do to get my words down, and get that story on paper.
Writing is hard work. You don’t believe that when you grow up dreaming to be the next J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, or Tom Clancy, but that doesn’t make it any less true. A huge chunk of that hard work is dedicated to finding the time. When you can’t find the time, you gotta make the time. Professional writers work their butts off. I’d bet my bottom dollar that they made the time, and so can you. Tackle that schedule, elbow drop that calendar, and give an atomic wedgie to that bloated agenda. Make an effort. Write.