The universal chorus of complaint from writers of all stripes seems to be: not enough time. The truth is, writers make time for writing. And everyone does it her own way. Your job is to find your way. Every Tuesday for the next, six weeks I’ll be offering suggestions to help you investigate how your relationship with time is moving you forward or holding you back.
You have all day
The fiction writer Grace Paley was once asked in an interview, “Grace, you are a mother, a teacher, a writer, and an activist. How do you find the time to do it all?” To which Grace replied, “Well, I have all day.”
Time is a level playing field
We all get the same twenty-four hours in a day. What you do with yours is up to you. You may believe that you have “no time,” but the fact is, you have just as much time as anyone else. What varies for every writer is our unique mix of work and family responsibilities, financial commitments, sleep requirements, physical and emotional space for writing, and perhaps most importantly, our ability and willingness to prioritize writing in this mix.
Consciousness is the first step toward change
Because I don’t know you, I can’t tell you exactly how you can make time for writing; but I assure you that you can. I can also tell you that your relationship with time is far more subjective than you might imagine. The best way to get a handle on how much authority you actually have over our time is to start becoming aware of how you are spending it. (Chapter seven of The Productive Writer offers a friendly time-tracking method designed to give you a snapshot of your daily and weekly patterns.)
Pay attention to how you’re investing your time today, and you’ll develop a clear picture of the mix of mandatory and voluntary activities that shape your days. Once you become conscious that your relationship with time is not something that happens to you but a dynamic orchestrated by you through dozens of large and small choices you make every day, you can evaluate if you would like to choose to continue the pattern you are in, or to create a new one.