[process] Finding the time to write (redux)

Ah, such an evergreen topic. This question never goes out of style.

The extremely talented Theodora Goss asked it again on her Facebook yesterday.

How do you all find time to write? Seriously, I’m starting to wonder how people do it. I know you’re supposed to make time, but out of what, thin air? It’s frustrating . . .

The comments there are worth reading. Being me, I answered thusly:

By practicing fierce time management and prioritization. Last year I underwent major surgery, six months of chemotherapy, worked full time without ever taking a leave of absence, parented a teen aged daughter, traveled a reasonable amount, blogged about 250,000 words and wrote about 250,000 words of first draft fiction. I did not watch tv, went to very few movies, never went clubbing or to concerts, never played any computer or online games (and only minimal, low impact gaming on my smartphone, mostly in time-kill situations) and read a lot fewer books that I would have preferred to. It can be done.

I want two follow that up with two possibly contradictory observations.

First, it’s all about choices. And I mean this without drawing any value judgments.

We all choose all the time. We choose the things we need to do to survive, to be entertained, to be fulfilled. For my own part, I choose to ensure the roof stays over my head, that I’m available to my daughter, that I take care of my health. I choose to maintain my friendships and cultivate my emotional relationships.

But after all those things are done, I choose to write. Writing entertains me. It fulfills me. It pleases me. I’ve invested into writing the time and energy I used to spend on tv, gaming, repairing old cars, non-essential housework, and whatnot. Time comes from choices.

Secondly, never compare. (Several people made this exact point in Dora’s Facebook comment thread.) My life isn’t yours, my choices aren’t yours.

For example, I have two distinct advantages that many people don’t have. Primus, I work at home, so there’s no commute. That an hour a day you spend in the car or on the bus? I can spend it writing. Related to that, my work hours are heavily front loaded so that I’m almost always free by 3 pm. Which gives me the afternoon and evening for both Dad time and writing time.

Secundus, I am a fast writer. So even if I only take that one hour, I can be pretty productive. That’s just me. Everybody writes at the pace they write at. Trying to be faster for the sake of being faster is a mug’s game. There can be other good reasons to try to be faster, such as daring to be bad, or getting out of your own way. But speed for the sake of the time in your day seems foolish somehow. Which, I recognize, is easy for me to say given the relatively blistering speed at which I write.

But my point is, don’t compare yourself to anyone but yourself. “Am I writing as much this month as I did last month? Last year? Am I okay with that answer, whatever it is?”

So where do you find the time to write? From yourself. If it’s important enough, you’ll organize your life to do it. If it’s not that important to you, don’t sweat it. Write when you can. That’s all any of us do in the end.

One thought on “[process] Finding the time to write (redux)

  1. Jonathan says:

    First thing in the AM, before the day gets in the way. Up at 6, write until 8. Sometimes I get bonus time after the girl’s off to school, but before I go to work.

    No TV’s been good to our family over the last 10-15 years in that we’ve delved more deeply into various arts (not the dark ones. yet) that I suspect we would have only dabbled in otherwise.

    And sometimes, when I feel like I’m getting close to wrapping something up (a draft, a short story), I’ll put in some time at night, even if it’s only 30 mins.

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