I feel like every week has become ‘one of those weeks’. The super busy, ‘trying to find time to pack everything in’ kinds of weeks. A lot of us writers don’t really have the pleasure of being able to write full time. We have jobs, or school, or people to spend time with, and other obligations that stack up precariously and threaten to fall if the status-quo is disturbed. It’s why so many people dream about writing a novel ‘someday’. It’s why these same people never really will get around to writing a novel, unless they make a focused change.
Here’s the thing: there will never be time to write unless you create that time.
Clearly, that’s harder said than done, but there’s one thing I’ve done recently that has given me so much of my time back. Even though I’m still busy, I can more easily carve out time to write. How did I do it? I said no.
Too many activities
It’s so easy to say yes to one thing or another. “Sure, I can help you with your homework!”, or “of course I can go to that party or the movies!”. But the problem is things start to add up too quickly. One yes can become a commitment you never intended to make.
For me, that commitment was debate. I was a nervous freshman looking for a new group of friends, and since I liked to talk and argue, I decided to join debate.
It turned into an enormous commitment. I kept agreeing to doing just one more tournament, but I would spend weekend after weekend scrambling to finish speeches and driving an hour away to tournaments. The time I spent on debate was monumental. I’m absolutely not saying that I regret the three years I was a part of the organization, since I did gain so many excellent research and speaking skills. But the time commitment just became too much.
Debate had become a part of me, though. How could I let go of something that was a part of my identity?
A difficult decision to make
However, as I realized, it’s so important to let go of things now to pursue something else that will produce results in the future. In my case, that was writing. I couldn’t even imagine all the extra writing I would get done with so much of my time freed up.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make. Saying no is never easy. But sometimes it can be so, so necessary. We cling to the things we love, to the things that have become a part of our routine. Change is difficult, but if we writers want to make the time for our craft, something has to go.
It can feel like you’re sacrificing something, or that you’re missing out on something (FOMO, anyone?). Like, maybe that party could have been fun. Or that one show that does seem kind of interesting. But ultimately, it comes down to what you want more. It’s always important to do things to help you relax and things to fully enjoy life, but if you want to write more, you have to do less of something else.
It’s hard. Of course. Let me give you a tangible example: you say no to a TV show that takes up an hour of your life every week. Not too bad, right? If you can write 1,000 words in an hour (easily doable for most people!), that adds up to 52,000 additional words a year. A few extra thousand words, and that’s around the size of your average young adult novel. All those words from an extra hour in your week.
We underestimate the power of time sometimes. We underestimate the value of our time. But if you want to regain some time and write more to achieve your various writing goals, saying no is going to be essential.
A re-examination of your time
So, you’re convinced you want to do more with your time. You’re ready to say no. There are a few steps you can take in order to clear some time in your schedule.
- Make a list of your regular commitments. Take stock of what you typically do in a week. If you need to, do a time audit and see where that time is going (the results can be surprising! Like, did I really just spend an hour of my life aimlessly scrolling through my Twitter feed?).
- Look at what you do. What activities are absolutely necessary? What are things that you genuinely enjoy? Those are the things that stay on the list.
- Examine what you have left. Are these commitments adding anything of real value to your life? If not, then strike them off. Find a way to say no, whether it be through a kind text message to a friend telling them you can’t meet up with them super frequently anymore, or blocking Netflix on your laptop for a certain time of the day.
- Schedule in writing time when you previously had said activities.
- If other non-important things come up during your scheduled writing time, say no.
- Become a writing boss who now has time to write on a regular basis.
So, in conclusion
- Say no.
- Write more.
So much harder said than done- trust me, I’ve been through the entire process. But if you really do want to write, you’re going to have to make the time.
Have you been struggling to find the time to write? Any activities you’re thinking of saying no to? Let me know!