Time is not on your side…

Last week, in my post about the book cover faux pas, I listed the writing projects I have in the works.  A couple of my readers asked how I had time to write like that.  The short answer is:  I have no life.  Ok, that’s a joke, sort of.  Many of us who are trying to live the writing life are fitting it into an already busy schedule.  How does someone with a day job manage to carve out time in the day to write?  Schedules vary, but there are some principle to apply.

One of my writing heroes is Nora Roberts. She has written over 209 romance novels in her illustrious career. Now, I see you all turning your noses up at romance novels, but quit it! The genre is underrated by literary snobs for no good reason. Jane Austen was a romance writer. So were the Bronte sisters, Margaret Mitchell, Gustave Flaubert, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Wharton – need I say more?

Back to Nora – PBS (Public Broadcasting System, for those of you outside the USA and a true bastion of the arts) did an interview with her a couple years ago and it made a big impression on me. She said she approaches her writing like any other person would approach their work day. She gets up early, exercises, puts the coffee pot on and by 8:00, she is at her desk to write for an 8 hour day! That’s right, an 8 hour day. It’s a job, people. A very, very fun job, but a job nonetheless.

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I have tried to impose that kind of discipline upon my writing. Every weekday, I get up early and write for an hour or so, exercise and go to the office to see my patients.* Tuesday and Thursday, the days I don’t have office hours, I keep on writing.  (So that’s how she does it!)  I set deadlines to keep from getting off track.  I have writing goals for my novel series, for my blog and for an unrelated project which I hope wins me the Pulitzer. Just kidding…  Unknown.jpeg

Anyway, the trick is to be analytical and slightly selfish when it comes to your writing. Take a look at your weekly schedule. How much time do you spend in front of the TV? Playing video games? Fooling around on Facebook and Twitter? I know, I know, I do it, too. This is time you could be spending on your writing. On the other hand, don’t let your writing become so burdensome that you lose your joy. After a big project is complete, or sometimes in the middle when you’re hitting the wall, take a break, step back and recharge your batteries.

Here are some things you should NOT sacrifice for time to write:

-your spouse/partner and children  (unless you secretly can’t stand them)
-your health and wellness: take time to exercise, drink plenty of water and eat healthy food – it powers your brain  (also booze, but that’s a subject for it’s own post)
-your spiritual life: whatever that means to you, be it meditation, prayer, or just quiet time to think  (and have a legitimate excuse to ignore your family)
-reading for pleasure: writers need to read, period
-spending time with friends  (if you still have any)

Why that last one? Because frankly, writers spend a lot of time in our own heads and can invent our own friends by writing them. I am totally guilty of that.  While that internal chatter is essential for good writing, you have to turn it off once in a while.  Don’t give up the chance to have real life human connections in order to create your fantasy world.

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Writers, the bottom line is if you are going to do this, you have to make it a priority. It has to be important to you. It can’t get shuffled so far to the bottom of the pile that you never finish anything. If you find that happening to you ALL THE TIME, then reevaluate your plan to be a writer. Maybe the writing life is not for you. That’s ok, too. Be a reader. After all, someone’s got to read all this stuff we write!

How about the rest of you?  Writers, how do you find time to write?

*I am a Doctor of Chiropractic in solo practice in the Philadelphia suburbs.  As always, some of that was meant to be humorous.  I assume you’re all savvy enough to pick out the useful stuff from the nonsense.

31 thoughts on “Time is not on your side…

  1. Just this morning I was debating with myself on this topic! Synchronicity is it, as Anand says?
    My biggest problem seems to be the time I feel I am wasting in the traffic. i spend 4 hours every day going to and back from work. Because I drive, I cant seem to utilize the time for anything like reading or jotting down ideas. At last, I resolved to use the time to think of possible short stories I can come up with and develop into stories. The only problem seems to be that half the time I forget that bright idea I came up with. I hardly spend any time on Facebook/twitter etc. When I am home after work, a good part of my evening goes with helping my son with his homework, talking to him about his day and of course cooking dinner. After that I write for an hour or so and then read before sleeping. In short, other than this I have no time for anything.
    My guilt is that I tend to do some of the “DO NOT Do” items on your list like neglect my health, forget to eat or exercise because I am engrossed in a book or writing a piece. Last weekend, I turned down an invitation for a party at a friends place because I wanted to write, while I was happy to have finished my work, my friends were quite unhappy with me for not showing up – Not a good thing for me to have done that to them!
    You see, this is my dilemma! I think I have written a mini post on your comments box! Just continuing my rambling with myself from this morning 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You need to find a way to use voice recording to ‘write’ while you’re commuting! Or listen to podcasts and/or audiobooks. I had an hour long commute when I was an associate at another practice. That’s what I used to do. Have small goals like writing one paragraph a day, make a little time at the end of the week to edit what you wrote. Remember it’s not a sprint it’s a marathon so set your own pace! And this time of year, don’t beat yourself up! There’s too much other stuff going on! After the new year, start fresh. Writers everywhere are going through the same thing right now!

      Liked by 3 people

    2. I miss the train/bus commute I used to have. I had 40 minutes to read or write. Now I have to drive to work. I’ve taken to using my phone’s voice record function to write a note reminder of something I want to write about. I’ve also drafted entire posts this way some day.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s a good idea. For some reason I have a phobia of sorts (ok that’s exaggeration!) against hearing my recorded voice. I mean I hate listening to my own voice recorded….weird I know…makes it difficult for me to do that. But I guess that’s the best way out of making a long journey useful especially when there are ideas brewing in the head!

        Liked by 2 people

      1. The Here Lies a Soldier series is independent but I might turn it into a book some day! I’ve written 2 prequels to my forthcoming novel and another short story involving a future character for a novel!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I usually try to make time at the end of the day. I re-read what I wrote the day before as my dinner cooks. Then after eating it’s red wine and writing time. Sometimes more writing, sometimes more red wine. One of the things I love is the fact my boxing partner is just as mad as me. We box every Monday and Thursday. If you’re on pads, then you get to talk about your idea / how your project is going. But when you’re punching, you have to listen to the constructive criticism / feedback. Sometimes it’s brutal, but it’s great fun. Both of us are genre writers too – crime thrillers and psychological noir kind of girls.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Six months ago I would probably have had my ass kicked too. I used to play lacrosse so I wanted a sport I could do with other people as well as do my running etc at the weekend. I’m a ‘headspace runner’ 🙂 Tennis on the other hand. Zero talent. I can’t rally for the life of me.

        Liked by 1 person

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