Making Time To Write
If you are like me, your list of what’s going on in your life is a mile long. Just right now, I’m renovating my house on a shoestring budget. My husband is working out of town all week. I’ve been so lucky that he’s always helped with household tasks and childcare in a big way, so his absence is putting an extra strain on what I have to do. I am teaching full-time, taking care of two kids. I’m also writing.
I’m not complaining. I feel totally and utterly blessed.
In fact, I’ll bet if you asked anyone you know their list is probably at least as long as mine, if not longer. And likely more stressful. I realize I’m not the only one who experiences life stresses.
But it’s how we choose to respond to that stress that affects our dreams. If you are like me, your dream is to work as a writer. A published one.
But how do you write if you also have to work a day job to support that writing dream?
How do you make time to write when you have multiple other responsibilities pulling at you?
Acknowledge the Season of Your Life
If you are in the season of life where you are moving, raising kids, and working full-time, then this is your current reality.
If your kids are in college and you cannot quit your day job, then this is your current reality.
If you are cobbling together part-time jobs that take up more time than a full-time job, then this is your current reality.
If you are the caregiver of an aging parent, then this is your current reality.
It does us no good to say: “If I only had ______________.” Some situations are changeable, but some are not. I wouldn’t want to get rid of my kids. I made a decision to have them, and I daily make a decision on how to be involved in their lives.
One thing about seasons is that they don’t last forever. My kids are still very young, but even in their short lives my writing schedule and process has changed as their schedules and needs have changed.
Push Yourself Without Pushing Yourself Over the Edge
I am a Type-A, highly motivated person. One of my pitfalls is taking on more than I can handle. I like to stay busy and I like to have things to work toward.
But sometimes, I forget to “acknowledge my season” and I do things that push myself right over the edge. Sometimes my husband, my mom, and my friends can see it coming long before I can.
Now, don’t get me wrong, if you are saying you have NO time to write, I would argue that isn’t true. You may not have as much time as someone else, but you do have some time. However, there is a line that goes from not doing as much as you could to pushing yourself over the edge.
Again, acknowledge for yourself: Do I need to push myself more? Or Do I need to back off and not push myself over the edge?
Write Despite Your Busy Life
Schedule a write-in for yourself.
Pick a weekend. It might be only a few times a year that you can manage this. Set aside that time to write. But prepare carefully. You will need to do some prep work ahead of time to make that weekend effective. For instance, set aside a particular project to work on and make a list of specific tasks you plan to do on that weekend.
Pack a bag.
Whenever I have a crazy mom-taxi kind of day, I have a friend who always asks me, “Did you pack your bag?” She knows me so well. Yes, I always pack a writing bag. A bag with my laptop, a notebook, pens, and some piece of a work in progress. It might be something to read on a hard copy and mark up. It might be chapters that I need to write. It might be research that I am going to read and organize.
Set small goals.
Break down your task into manageable tasks. For instance, writing a book as a whole project can be overwhelming to think about. Divide the big task into manageable 15 or 30 min. tasks. It does take prep work, but it can be done.
Do Not Compare Yourself to Other Writers
I think this is one of the hardest things that I struggle with. I cannot go at the pace of some writers I know. I've been writing a long time, sometimes with little progress. But I know without a doubt that I am better writer now that I was a year ago. I can only concentrate on ME and how I can take MY writing to the next level.
Find a Non-Writing Task to Feed Your Writing
I am Type A and driven, but I also know there are times in our lives when things happen that are so emotionally taxing that we can’t write. It has happened to me and I’m sure that it’s happened to many writers I know. What can you do? You can engage in activities that feed your writer’s soul.
As a young mom who reads to her son every night, I utilize this time to soak in good books. My snuggle time is also my research time. I write picture books and reading dozens of them a week does feed me as a writer.
Listen to books on audio.
If I’m traveling or spending time in the car, I always listen to podcasts and audiobooks. If my kids are going to be in the car with me, we listen to middle grade novels. Again, it feeds me as a writer.
Books I Recommend
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
Time to Write by Kelly L. Stone
For my other posts on Making Time to Write, click here.
Do it For Yourself
What is that writing project that you have been meaning to work on? Break it down into small chunks to work on it for 15-20 minutes a day. Don't say "It's not enough time." Try it (and read about one how author did it). After a month, you WILL see progress.
What are you going to do to make time to write in 2015? Tell us in the comments below.
Great advice. I have the optimum situation-- children grown, not married, no grandchildren. I have the time, but squander it. I resist going to the computer and working. I know so many would love to have the open spaces of time I have to devote to writing. Those who are the busiest maximize their spare moments. Hats off to all of you with busy lives!ReplyDelete
Sherri, I think time wasting is so common (it's a problem for me too). I think the key is being intentional about writing time. I wouldn't be late to work, so I can't be late to my writing job either (even though it's not paying the bills yet). Having a routine has helped me tremendously.Delete
I have an idea. Would anyone like to be a prayer partner and let's pray for each other's writing requests?ReplyDelete
Thanks for this post. It's a really good reminder to me. I'm always pushing myself to do more, too much, and never feeling I do any of it well. It's so important just to acknowledge your situation and be realistic about it.ReplyDelete
Absolutely. I may not get the volume done that others do. BUT with 1 hour a day devoted to writing, it DOES add up.Delete
Marcie, this is an excellent post! Struggling to find "time to write" is a constant, no matter what your situation is, as you so eloquently put it. What works for me is treating my writing as a business--what I put into it, I get out of it. Though admittedly, it's easier for me to buckle down with, say, a project that I know I'll be paid for as opposed to that manuscript that may or may not sell. Still, I know that every bit of writing makes me a better writer. You don't have to be some super awesome brilliant writer to succeed--you just need to STICK TO IT. I'm pretty much proof of that! :-)ReplyDelete
And P.S. You have the write/right stuff, Marcie! Sherri, you need to send me one of those loaves of bread (and then get back to writing)! :-)
Yes, Cathy! I agree. I would never skip my day job, so I don't skip my writing time (unless of illness or vacation). For me, thinking ahead is key. My kids are gluten free. I have to plan ahead for snacks, vacations, eating out. I do the same for my writing--plan ahead, that is. :)Delete
Thanks Marcie. Great post!ReplyDelete
I am trying to do the waking up at 5am thing. My hardest part is getting the creative PB juices flowing that early. :-)
I know 5am doesn't work for everyone, but it works for me. For me, it was the only time I could do it. I'm way too brain dead after teaching all day to do it at night. I had to experiment with different times before I found my sweet spot.Delete
Some wise words, here, Marcie. Acknowledging the "season" of one's life IS important!ReplyDelete
It's been a revelation for me, Kathy. And I think taking stock of what DOES get accomplished is important. I think people think: "Well, if I can't write for hours a day, then I can't write." Not so. Two and half years of me mostly writing just 1 hour a day has been incredibly productive for me.Delete
Wow, sometimes I wish I was Type A. I would get so much more done in life! :) Great post Marcie. I have the time, I just don't utilize it well AT ALL. I agree that planning ahead is the key. And implementation - I finally understand that is my weak area. I have ideas and plan but then I think I'm done. As in, "Oh, you mean you're supposed to take those 30 PiBoIdMo ideas and actually turn them into manuscripts?" 2015 is the year of the follow through for me!ReplyDelete
I block out the time on a calendar. Then I don't feel guilty when I do fun things. I plot out the projects--little by little.Delete
Words can't express how true this is! I too sometimes spread myself too thin and have struggles finding time to document and work on the inspirational ideas my daughter, family, classroom of kindergartners, and hiking adventures provide me on a daily basis. It's almost like inspiration overload! I am quite blessed though and know I can find those chunks of time to grow.ReplyDelete
Peter, I agree! With two young kids and a full-time teaching job, time is short. But the cool thing is that someone pays us to inspire kids to read and write. So, many times, the books I use in teaching serve as double duty in feeding my writing life. :) Little chunks of time add up! I'm consistently amazed at those small chunks of time, over time, move me forward.Delete
Marcie: Your words of encouragement to get motivated and keep up the momentum are just what I need. Sure, I can continue to make excuses that are lame and unacceptable. However, that's not going to make my dream come true to become a published author. At an upcoming Book Ends Critique Group, all participants will write down goals that are meaningful, measurable, and attainable. I feel it is important to award myself with a treat, a special outing, the purchase of a new book, lunch out with friend; whatever keeps me going because I deserve a reward for writing and so do you. ~SuzyReplyDelete
A support system is so, so fabulous! I'm incredibly lucky. I have one of the best writing support systems I could ever hope to have. With my family, my in-person critique group, and my many online critique partners, I feel so fortunate to have them behind me and rooting for me. I like chocolate as a reward myself. :)Delete
Thanks, Marcie. I needed this post to encourage me accept my current season. After several years of having time to focus on writing, I'm back to work and frustrated with trying to squeeze time out of a busier day. I think 2015 is going to be a year of adjustments...ReplyDelete
I'm right with you, Patty. This year promises to bring huge changes to our family. I know I will be adjusting my expectations again in September.Delete
You are superwoman! Now, I know you will deny it. You will say that you are a mere mortal, but I know the truth!
On a very serious note, I say thank you. Reading your post got me motivated and I don't just mean for today. I mean for the year. I admire and respect your dedication and discipline.
I have a feeling that this is going to be a phenomenal year for you and the rest of the GROGgers!
Todd, you are so kind. The truth is, I've made a habit of organizing my life. When I plan my meals, we eat healthier and spent less money. When I organize my writing, I accomplish more. :)Delete
Aw, did you write this post just for me, Marcie? :D Like you, I'm a Type A busy person, so between full-time freelancing, teaching my online course, developing new course ideas, and raising two small children, I've become one of those "I have NO time to write" writers. But you have essentially kicked me in the butt and told me to shape up. Of course I have 15-20 minutes a day. I also have two writing projects I'd like to complete this year and an incredible support system, so there's no excuse! Thank you for the reminder that there is always time to do what's important to us.ReplyDelete
Renee, you are doing wonderful things! I'm so happy I got to learn from you in 2014. And the mss I started in TLLL is one that I'm the most proud of in 2014. :) Definitely take time to work on those projects of your heart in 2015--even if you only work on them 15-20 minutes a day. It will add up. :)Delete
This is one of the wisest things I have read lately. Thank you so much!ReplyDelete
Thank you for your kind words! I'm glad it was helpful!Delete
Excellent advice Marcie! Great post. Love the idea of the seasons of your life - we all need to go with the flow.ReplyDelete
As a planner, I find it a challenge to go with the flow, but I still have time to learn... :) But that is my goal.Delete
This should be on paper between two covers :)
Great link to Siobhan Adock (The Barter), new to me.
Appreciations for all you've shared in 2014 & will share in 2015.
Hugs to your family & especially, sister.
Jan, thank you so much!Delete
Great post, Marcie! You've inspired me to take a closer look at my goals and my habits, and find more time for my writing. Thanks!ReplyDelete
Yay! Here's to 2015! And more writing!Delete
Marcie, this is a fantastic post. I am in a different season than you, but you so nailed my feelings. In fact, it's like you've stepped right into my mind and written this as an inspriational guidebook for me!! Thanks! I push myself over the edge which causes me to lose focus and not break my tasks into bite-size pieces. Then when I try to eat the whole cake at once...nothing gets done! I am going to print this up and keep it in my writing zone and maybe another copy in my bag ;-)ReplyDelete
Penny, Thank you so much! That means a lot! Happy Writing in 2015.Delete
Great post, Marcie. Thanks for some great ideas to start 2015 with. I'm a big fan of audio books on car-rides.ReplyDelete
Yes, Sylvia. As much as I've been traveling lately, that's how the majority of my reading is getting done. :)Delete
Thanks for this post, that I needed to read! You are right, I too, need to acknowledge the season of my life, I do struggle with this and reading this from your perspective was a breath of fresh air. I will be looking at some of those books you recommended. Thanks again :-)ReplyDelete
Thanks, Yvonne. :)Delete
Marcie, thank you so much for your post! It was just what I needed!ReplyDelete