The following are parts of an article by Jamie Wallace in which she shares her tricks to finding time to do what she loves. I think it summarizes perfectly the steps every writer needs to include in their lives:
“People often ask me how I find the time to fit consistent reading and writing into my life. My answer is that I do not find the time, I make it. Sometimes, I steal it. The hard truth is that we rarely, if ever, stumble upon spare time. Most of our time is spoken for by our daily responsibilities and obligations. We get out of bed in the morning, and it seems moments later we are crawling back under the covers, barely aware of what transpired in the intervening hours.
How then, do you make the time for seemingly nonessential activities like reading and writing? Well, first of all, you stop thinking of them as nonessential. From there, you can start to explore some of the tricks I’ve developed to make sure that each day of my life includes some reading and some writing.
Trick #1: Forget Optional
The first step is simple: Acknowledge and accept that your writing matters. You can’t prioritize something if you’re constantly pushing it to the bottom of your To Do list because it’s “only a nice-to-have” and not a necessity. Too often (and, I’m speaking especially to the women now) we marginalize the things we want out of shame or guilt or some misplaced sense of duty. Stop that. Pursuing your creative journey is not a “bonus” that you get to enjoy if, and only if, you get everything else done first. “Everything Else” will never be done. Ever. There’s always more of everything to add to your list. That’s the way life is. If you’re going to make time to read and write, you need to make it now, not “someday.”
Trick #2: Make Intentional Choices
Though we may ache for time to read and write, we routinely sacrifice that time voluntarily to other people’s small gods. We let ourselves be talked into participating on yet another committee, taking on another project, or attending another social event. We talk ourselves into saying “yes”. Sometimes it comes from fear of failing, because if we’re too busy doing everything else, we’ll never have to try writing and we’ll never have to fail.
It all comes down to making intentional choices – learning to weigh out your options in the moment, and make your decision from a Big Picture perspective. The next time you’re tempted to say “yes” to someone else’s request or make a personal choice that will infringe on your writing time, picture your writing as a small, helpless creature being led to the sacrificial altar. Look at the poor creature’s big, frightened eyes. Know that you are the one who is going to have to do the deed. How are you feeling about your choice now?
Trick #3: Don’t Overlook Small Opportunities
There’s a common misconception that more is better, but less can sometimes serve just as well. As writers, we often pine for long stretches of time free from other duties and obligations. We crave whole mornings and afternoons in which to immerse ourselves in the world of our stories. Sadly, life doesn’t often offer up such opportunities. More often than not, we have to make do with small “pockets” of time, pieced together like a patchwork quilt.
This is okay. A minute stolen is still a minute, even if it has to stand on its own. What can you do in a minute? In three minutes? In ten?
I usually try to read one book every week or week-and-a-half. I am able to do this not by curling up for hours at a time with my book and a mug of tea (though, that sounds lovely). I am able to keep up with my reading by using the caches of minutes and moments that I’ve found hidden throughout my day.
I also always carry something to record my ideas. I may not be able to fit a long writing session into each day, but I can capture ideas in a notebook or an app. It may be challenging to work on a long-form piece like a novel a minute at a time, but you can do a lot of writing in fifteen minutes, or even three! Sketch out a character, map out an essay, craft a first draft of a piece of flash fiction, pen a poem. Bigger isn’t always better.
The power of enthusiasm can take you far. Where there is a will, there is a way. And there is always a will if we are passionate about something. We fight for the things we love. We choose the things we care about most. If you can rediscover and nurture your love of writing and your joy in the process, you will have tapped into an almost magical source of energy and drive.
Let yourself be swept up in the fire of your creative urges. Embrace your curiosity and your hunger to learn and explore and play. Remind yourself of the excitement that comes from trying new things. Make it FUN.
Trick #5: Build a Habit
Habits; hard to break – hard to make. Find one thing – reading while you eat breakfast, writing on your lunch break, penning a few lines before bed – and stick with it for thirty days. Establish a pattern. Train yourself to do this thing by habit.
I write morning pages – three handwritten pages of whatever tumbles out of my head. I write these weekend editions. Come hell or high water, I make the time, and I get them done. I write a bi-weekly column. It’s a small deadline, but one I refuse to miss. I read blog posts (to learn, explore, and keep up with what’s happening in publishing) each night on my iPhone while I wait for my daughter to drift off to sleep.
Each of these habits is a small thing, but together they create a broader writing life. I didn’t begin doing them all at once. I started one and then added another and another. It’s an organic process, but you have to start somewhere. Pick one thing. Go. Do it.
Trick #6: Be Flexible and Adaptable
Circumstances won’t always be perfect. Sometimes, even your plans to steal a few minutes will go awry. Sometimes, your time will be compromised by noisy neighbors or a bad cold. If you want to do this thing, you have to work with the circumstances at hand.
My daughter listens to audio books as she’s falling asleep. She usually prefers that I stay with her for a little while, so I stay there in the dark and I catch up on reading blog posts. In order to do this, I had to learn to read one thing, while another thing was playing in my ear. It took me a while, but now I can focus completely on the words I’m reading, and I don’t even hear the story that’s playing.
I can also write just about anywhere. Noise and discomfort are only small annoyances, not roadblocks. I often work in a local coffee shop amidst the hustle and bustle of conversations, music, and other “ambiance.” People ask me how the heck I can get anything done in all that racket. Easy – I have adapted.
We do not need to measure activity in days or even hours. If we can only carve out minutes to practice the thing we love – to read and to write and to live like writers – that can be enough. It can give us a toehold on the writing life we crave. So, make that time – one minute at a time – and use it to create the life you want. After all, it’s your time.”
From . – “On Making Time to Write in a Real Life”
May 9, 2015 by Jamie Wallace (Suddenly Jamie)
LIVE TO WRITE – WRITE TO LIVE