Making Time to Write

One of the hardest things for a writer, I think, is making time to write around all the other things that you need to do over the course of a day. Let’s face it, very few people have the luxury of writing full time, particularly when first starting out. There are day jobs to consider (or night jobs), plus all the other things that require time and attention, from family to laundry to grocery shopping to dealing with a busted furnace. Life takes up a lot of time and energy.

But the reality is you need to make time to write if that’s what you want to do. It has to be important enough for you to wake up an hour early or stay up an extra hour at night; you need to have a notebook with you on your train/subway ride; when lunch rolls around, you have to want to write badly enough that you pass up the meal with chatty co-workers at the local greasy spoon and instead take your bag lunch and laptop to a quiet corner to get some pages done. If you don’t want it badly enough to do those things — and more — then you don’t really want to be a writer.

Nanowrimo is done for another year. Whether or not you completed the required word count, chances are that participating gave you a new appreciation for what it takes to put in writing time every single day. If you didn’t participate because you already have a writing practice, are publishing and were mid-project, or simply knew that sort of pedal-to-the-metal writing style wasn’t for you, good for you. However, if you considered playing along but didn’t because you wouldn’t have the time, you’re missing the point.

No one has the time to be a writer. Not really. There are more than enough things to fill your day without taking a few hours to sit at your keyboard and commit your thoughts and imaginings to paper/screen. The reality is, writers write. Day in, day out. Maybe they take a few days off between projects or during a vacation; perhaps they work best by picking one or two days each week and making them “writing days.” It does not matter how you get it done, only that you do.

Today is December 1st. December is, perhaps, the busiest month of the year. Whatever your beliefs, whatever you celebrate, this is a month filled with holiday gatherings, events, shopping, traffic. Stores are crowded, gridlock takes over major cities, and everyone seems to be in a hurry to get somewhere.

I challenge you to write this month. If you call yourself a writer or aspire to, I challenge you to write during the month of December. You get to take two days off. I’m not telling you that you have to write for a certain length of time, or come up with a particular word count per day or for the month, but I am saying you should sit down and write something 29 out of the next 31 days.

Keep track of your output, whether you date your files or put your writing in a special folder or mark your calendar, but track your writing. Do it every day, with 2 off for holidays/illness/emergencies etc. Make the time. Find the time. Demand the time. If it’s important to you, do it. No excuses.

Write whatever you want, but make it for yourself. No fair counting a note you dash off to your child’s teacher to excuse them for a doctor’s appointment. Work on a novel, a short story, a personal essay, a blog post. Work on one project all month or different ones. Write for ten minutes or an hour. But write. I dare you.

This isn’t a formal thing. No sign ups or counting days at the end of the month. But if you’d like to commit somewhere to help yourself stick to the challenge, please post in comments here. I’ll be doing more pep talks over the month, geared toward helping people put in their writing time, so everyone is more than welcome to join in and chat about how they’re doing.