Making time for writing: part 1

Sage CohenProductive writing7 Comments

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.

7 Comments on “Making time for writing: part 1”

  1. I came across your post just as I began to panic about how much work I have to do, and you have instantly calmed me to focus. 🙂

    I have been working at home as a full-time web designer since 2006, and have recently begun integrating my writing back into my workday–what an adventure it has been! This is the biggest reminder I am constantly giving myself: that I DO have the time. I think that so many are used to having their time taken up by outside employment or family responsibilities, that having the time t write seems like a surreal concept, but it IS possible, and the proof of that is simply sitting down and doing so.

  2. This is the key: changing my relationship to time and being conscious of how I am spending my time. I love the idea of taking ownership over my(MY)time. Thanks always,Sage,for your wise words.

  3. I’m so proud of myself for finding you, you are a fount of information and affirmation to us all. Thank you for what you do for all of us.


    1. Honored to be traveling with you all, AJ. I appreciate your kind words. And I’m thrilled to hear how all of you are making space for writing — and honoring the time you have!

  4. Pingback: Friday Find: Time to Write |

  5. Thanks, Sage, for the reminder. I’ve been drowning in a variety of undone projects, not all of them writing-related, so not much progress all the way around. Today I made time for my poetry: two sonnets drafted is the result! Putting “write sonnet” on the top of my to-do list, instead of “maybe later,” was the key. Progress!

    1. Great to hear it, Kit! Here’s to knowing what belongs at the top of the list — and following through to make it happen! I’m inspired to do the same today!

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