Wednesday, April 20, 2011

But I don't have time to write!

The best authors out there always say the way to become a better writer is to write.  Write all the time.  Write on a schedule.  Set aside the time every day to write, even if you don't have it available.  With our busy lives and families and work and kids and well, whatever else, there just isn't enough time.  That 25th hour of the day isn't available, and even if it were, you probably wouldn't want to spend it writing when that new episode of your favorite television show is on.

But that's the thing.  There's always time to write.  We have a finite amount of time every day, but yet we always find time to do the most pressing items on the list, and we find time to squeeze in the stuff we absolutely have to waste our time on too, no matter if they're important or not.

That's where writing comes in.  For a writer, writing should be a part of the stuff we simply cannot do without.  It's easy to vege out in front of the television, or waste time on teh interwebz.  It's hard to write.  It takes time, dedication, research, and just plain grinding through those tough parts where the whole thing seems to bog down hopelessly.

But the advice - write, write, write - holds true.  I've been writing since the 80's, and in between then and now, I've been some pretty interesting places.  I've been everywhere from tropical paradises with all sorts of distractions, to war zones with a completely different set of distractions.  Everywhere I've been, I've written.  And I've found it easiest to write when I was horribly busy.

For me, if I have little to do, I put things off.  I go into slacker mode, and my writing suffers.  When I'm busy, I transfer that energy into my writing and somehow find time to put in the time to finish at least a few pages every day.  It's not easy channeling any energy you have left into your novel after an 18-hour workday.  It's not easy after eight hours in a cushy office.  But if you force yourself into the habit of writing, especially when you are the busiest, you'll find it easier to write.  In fact, I'd wager you'll find yourself looking forward to writing, because it becomes an escape from the busyness of your hectic schedule.


  1. I know how you feel. My mindset on making time truly changed after I read Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. He mentioned that he worked ten to fifteen hours a day it his restaurant, went out drinking with his buddies afterward, and then got up at 5 every morning to write. THAT'S dedication. I try to get up at 5 in the morning. And when I'm consistent with it, I get a lot done.

  2. I think you may be onto something. It's so much easier to jam writing time into a busy schedule than it is to stop procrastinating and write when you have a bunch of free time on your hands. At least I find that the case. It's good to see others with similar experience or observations.

  3. A panel I was on at a convention last weekend, the moderator said she always stresses "the BTIC principle" - butt time in chair.

  4. That's sound advice, Mari. And so true. The key is putting yourself into a position where BTIC is the norm. I found my most prolific writing was done while deployed to Afghanistan - at a time where I was far busier than any other time in my life. Somehow I found the time for several hours of writing even after long, long workdays. The key is the elimination of distractions and dedication to the story.

  5. One thing I like about my current laptop is that the button to turn off the wi-fi is right at the top of the keyboard. That goes a long way all by itself.

    People ask me all the time why I don't have more writing output every day because "all I do is stay at home". :eye roll: I run a tight ship. I make sure my house is in order, then I get down to other business. Uncluttered house, uncluttered mind.

    Too, I'm one of those people who can't write everyday. I have to mix it up to give my mind a break, else I end up complete goo. I'll edit here, write there, go for a walk, read a book, or do some housework. The key, for me, is to not focus on just one thing.