A wake-up call for the chronically busy writer

First of all, here’s the hard truth: in reality, we actually potentially have more time available to us than ever before, thanks to technology and other conveniences. We don’t need to grow our own food, ride a buggy into town, or wash our clothes by hand. We don’t even really need to talk on the phone. We’ve simply been drinking the Kool-Aid that tells us that “busy is good” and we’re running on a treadmill of our own devising.

Be honest with yourself: are you really prioritizing your writing?

In order to succeed as a writer, you need to make your writing time legitimate, not optional. It is as much a “real task” as your “day job” or housework. Free time doesn’t just happen. It isn’t actually “free.” You usually need to beg for, borrow, barter for, or steal that “free” time. And once you have done that, put it in your calendar. That time you just made is a gift to your author-self. Use it wisely.

Tips for writing more and better in the time you have

-Make writing a ritual, kind of like some people do for a bath. (You don’t have time for a bath right now.) Make tea, light a candle, go to the same dedicated space. Over time, these signals will get your brain prepped for creative time faster. Psych yourself to do something similar when you get to the “business” stage of your book.

-Compartmentalize. Literally. Shut the door, and then promise to yourself to shove any other concerns onto the figurative back burner while you write or take care of the business of being an author. This will definitely be easier to do if you schedule in a specific and manageable amount of time for this.

-Combine writing with social time. Join a writing group that meets regularly for writing followed by conversation or create our own with old or new friends. This way you won’t feel so solitary and you’ve just combined two time-consuming activities into one.

-Give yourself a deadline. Kick start your writing with an external motivation like NaNoWriMo or a writing contest, which have to be completed by a certain date. Put this date in your calendar. Announce it on Instagram. Count down.

-Consistency is key.  The more regular you can make your writing, the more you can make it into a habit, the higher your chances of success. But “regularity” can mean daily, weekly, or three times a week. Whatever works for you. Just be realistic about how your choice of writing schedule will impact your progress.

-Find your “magic hour.” Most of us have a time of day when we are better at creative tasks, or more focused for editing or administrative work. Find what those hours are for you, for your writing and for the business side of writing: Is it early morning? Is it late at night? Is it your lunch hour? Don’t let anyone try to tell you what is right for you, unless you feel truly incapable of figuring it out for yourself.

-Quit “obligations” that you wouldn’t miss too much: that board or committee that drives you nuts, the book club that’s more like an abuse session, the chore of cooking yet another meal when leftovers or takeout would do, the lion’s share of the housework if you live in a home with other able-bodied people, the so-called social obligations that don’t make you happy …beyond just taking up time, these things sap your energy and make you resentful. They can also bring about a slew of excuses of their own when you inevitably try to skip out on them. Better to “break up” cleanly.

What if you still can’t find the time?

Maybe time is not your real problem. Let’s assume that we are not dealing with motivation block here, either. Your problem may be productivity. Productivity is basically how much you manage to do during the time you have. Being productive is one of the major keys to success, whether you are a writer or an entrepreneur or both or anything in between. Paying attention to common productivity mistakes is the first step to being more productive and successful. We’ll be talking about productivity tips and tricks soon. Keep posted.