By Lucynda Storey
Of all the commodities a writer needs most none is as important as time. You can write using a word processor, a typewriter, a notebook and pencil. Yet, in order to finish your story, the one thing you must have is time.
Time is rather like the lesson you learned long ago in physics class. Remember the law of conservation? “Mass and energy can neither be created or destroyed.” Time is the same. You cannot make more of it.
So, what can you do to get more time to write?
For those of us who write by the seat of our pants, this is tough. Make the most of the time you are given by planning.
I know, I know. All the plotters out there are probably whispering under their collective breath, “I told you so.”
But, planning isn’t just about the writing of your story. Planning is about being ready to write, having supplies in place, setting up the writing location so you don’t have to search for something you need. Planning is about knowing your family still expects you to make dinner, get the dry cleaning, and pick up the kids from school. Planning is about having steps in place to fulfill your responsibilities.
One thing you can do is make a pie graph, and show yourself how you spend the time in your day. How much time do you spend playing computer games, reading email, sifting through junk mail, or on the phone? List it all. Be realistic.
In our house, one of the biggest eaters of time is traveling. I’m on the road, going to meetings or hauling kids around nearly two hours a day. Some of you probably do more. What do you do with that time? Listen to tapes on writing craft? Tape-record your next scene? On one trip, I dictated to my youngest son the character arc of my hero. I’ve taken my Alpha smart to soccer practice, my notebook to volleyball practice.
Other ways I find more time? Cook using the crock-pot. Get up a little earlier, or stay up a bit later depending on what is happening in my life. I set measurable, obtainable goals (three pages on Wednesday, five pages on Friday … whatever fits my schedule) that reflect my commitments for the day.
I’ve learned that in order to achieve my goal of completing a novel (or six) that I have to work at it every day. You can’t be the Michael Jordan of the literary world if you don’t practice and work, just like MJ did. Pitchers pitch, over and over again. Quarterbacks throw, singers sing. Don Henley croons, “How bad do you want it? How bad do you want it? Not bad enough.”
We know the stories. Writers worked early, while the baby was napping, in the dead quiet of the night. Those writers wanted to get their stories out on the page enough that they found the time to make it happen.
William Jennings Bryant, an important judge (Supreme Court) is attributed with the following, “Destiny is not a matter of chance, but a matter of choice.” What choices are you making? Have you learned to say, “No?” You do not have to volunteer for ten committees. One, doing something you really enjoy, is enough.
Learn and practice this word: DELEGATE.
You cannot do it all. Use that crock-pot, teach the little people in the house how to sort and fold the laundry. Let older siblings take the younger ones to the park. Trade quiet time with a friend or relative. I take my niece for a day, and my sister takes my kids on another. Wow, a whole day of writing time!
Protect the time you’ve set up. Don’t answer the phone. Instead, let the answering machine get it. Don’t tell the “friend” who always seems to sabotage your effort that today is your time to write. These people come up with emergency situations that really aren’t.
Don’t make excuses. There are hundreds of excuses but not one real reason. If you want more time to write, you can make it happen. Use the talent you’ve been given and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty because you squeaked out an hour of precious writing time. Talent of any sort deserves and demands the time you give it. Don’t look back on your life with the “could have, would have, should have” regrets. The absolutely worst thing I can imagine is my family saying to me, “Why didn’t you ever…?”
Be honest with yourself. What compromises did you decide on for your writing? What priority does writing truly hold in your life? What choices are you making today, right now?
You can’t create more minutes in a twenty-four hour day, but you can find it to follow your dreams.