A Time to Write

A few days ago, I read about a writer, quite well known, who said that she had given up because it was taking too much valuable time from her family life. She said she loved her new career in pottery, but I still thought it was a pity she wasn’t able to balance her time so that she could enjoy family life and writing life.

Time is one of the biggest stumbling blocks that aspiring writers encounter. ‘I don’t have enough time,’ they say. ‘I wish I could find the time.’

But the truth is, if you really want to write, you’ll find the time.

 

This might sound like a very arrogant thing to say from someone who doesn’t have a job outside writing, doesn’t have children and doesn’t have a husband (yet!). But time isn’t the real issue. The real issue is fear. That and the natural human tendency to take the easy route. It’s so much easier to channel surf or go on Facebook than face the blank page or computer screen.

Even in the busiest life, there are little pockets of time that you can use for your writing. Our creative writing tutor had us map out our time on a spreadsheet to help us figure out where those pockets were. And there are always more of them than you think.

Early Mornings

Are you a morning person? Why not take advantage of the stillness and peace in the house while everyone else is asleep. It’s an easy way to snatch time for yourself without interrupting the rhythm of your work and family life. Or you could swap a book for a notebook on your daily commute.

A Writing Lunch

Do you read while you’re eating your lunch at work? Why not swap the book for a notebook? It might mean that you need to escape to your car, but giving your mind a break from the cycle of work will energise it for the afternoon. If you enjoy socialising with your colleagues, you could still do it at the coffee break.

While You’re Waiting

We spend a good bit of our lives these days waiting, in a queue at the bank, in a doctor’s surgery, or on hold while you’re on the phone. Writing doesn’t have to take place in a sacred, silent space. You could be waiting a long time to find one. If your life is hectic, you write where and when you can. And at least you won’t have to silently fume at the time you’re wasting.

In the Evenings

Evenings are the time when we slump into a happy torpor in front of the telly, or curl up with a good book. Writing can be the last thing on our minds. But it’s also the longest stretch of time we have in a day. And for night people, it’s when they’re most alert. Besides, delving into another world can be a very relaxing way to spend time. Like a holiday for your brain. And you don’t even have to miss your favourite programmes – you can Sky Plus them.

The best news of all is that you don’t need to spend hours every day writing your masterpiece. All you need is 10 minutes.  In 10 minutes, if you write like fury, you could end up with 300 words. That’s 2,100 words per week. And more than 100,000 words in a  year. Even if you wrote nothing, you’d still be moving your writing forward by taking the time to think. Put in those terms, your writing goals will be a lot more attainable. And your fear barrier will melt away.

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7 thoughts on “A Time to Write

  1. Great post Derbhile and certainly food for thought for me. I often find my “writing brain” kicks into gear when I’m walking the dogs or driving on a long journey. Obviously it’s not so easy to scribble on a notepad then but the recorder on my iPhone comes in handy. And before I had that I once phoned my answerphone at home from the car and gave myself some bullet points for a blog I was planning.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement! It never occurred to me that I could write a considerable amount in only 10 minutes a day. I don’t even like to write unless I’m going to have a long stretch of time in front of me. Since I never have that kind of time, I almost never write. I’ve never really felt like much of a writer, because, although I have lots of ideas, I don’t ever feel compelled to write. I daydream about writing, buy and read books about writing, jot down ideas for writing – I even create my own writing prompts! But I rarely ever write because I feel that “I just don’t have the time.” So thank you very much for setting me straight!

  3. Lack of time, lack of courage, or perhaps a lack of something to say. I’ve been saying for the longest time that I write, not because I have something to say, but because I want to discover what I might have to say. I often start with a comment on a column in the New York Times and write until I’ve articulated something that might be worth reading. Writing, as a process of discovery, opens the mind to new ideas, and is ever a worthwhile exercise. Watching Charlie Rose recently I heard Roger Rosenblatt say much the same thing. That he writes to discover what he thinks. He also said something else I believe in, don’t write what you know, write what you want to know. Those are some good places to start.

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