by Meg Dowell
Do you feel pressed for time?
Do you find yourself pushing your work back an hour, two days, three weeks — because there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to make it happen?
There’s a reason you haven’t been able to make time for writing lately — even though that’s the one thing you wish you could be doing right now.
You’re just not thinking about time the right way.
You have enough of it. You’re just ignoring the not-so-secret power you have to manipulate it to fit your specific needs.
The problem is that we’re too preoccupied with the desire to create more time, which obviously isn’t possible. We should, instead, focus on manipulating the time we have to create more open space for writing and other personal projects.
And how do we do that? By doing some things less. Which many of us (possibly you included) aren’t willing to do, because social media and Netflix and other “time-wasters” are just part of our culture.
There’s nothing wrong with social media and Netflix and the like. That stuff is awesome.
Here’s the other problem, though: we take the advice to do these things less to mean we can’t do them at all, when the advice literally means to not do them so much. I see the exact same issue, and give the exact same advice, when discussing nutrition and health. It’s not that people have to give up their favorite foods to be healthier — they just have to learn not to eat so much of everything they love.
You can scroll through Twitter and keep up with the latest Netflix series, spend time with family and friends, make dinner, go shopping, sleep, and still have time left over to write.
But instead of spending 10 minutes on Twitter every time you check it, spend two. Instead of binging an entire season of Lost, watch one episode. Block out two hours to spend with a loved one instead of an entire day.
As much as you want to enjoy everything in excess, it’s just not possible every single day of the week. Especially not if you want to stay productive, creative, and fulfilled in both your work and outside of it.
Writing, for many of us, is a strange mix of work and play. Sometimes that makes it hard to decide whether or not sitting down to write is considered work or leisure time.
But either way, if you want to “make time” to write, you have to realize that there are going to be days you have to sacrifice some things in order to make writing a priority. You can’t give yourself more hours in a day, but you can make the active choice to spend the time you do have on the things that are, right now, the most important.
And when writing isn’t your only priority — adulting is hard, man — you don’t have to spend hours upon hours every day on writing. Like everything else, it’s OK — and sometimes necessary — to do a little bit of writing, and then move on to other things.
You’re not too busy to write.
Maybe the problem is that you’re just too stubborn to scale back the time you spend doing certain things in order to allow yourself more time for writing.
Yeah, I went there. But only because I’m in the same boat. We’re all in this together. This is a balancing act, and we’re still learning how to stay upright with both feet flat on the ground.
It’s going to take some time. But we’ll figure it out.
Let’s try that thing I said I was going to do like a month ago and never did — spend a day or two, maybe even a week, keeping track of how much time you spend “wasting time.”
Are there some things you could do less, to make writing fit better into your day?
I can pretty much guarantee there are. But it might really help to be able to visualize it.
Do you already know off the top of your head what you spend too much time doing, when you should be writing? Acknowledge that. Right here, right now. I’m waiting. (:
(I’ll start — if YouTube weren’t a thing, despite the fact that there are dozens of ways to stream video online, I’d be a lottttt more productive from week to week.)
Guest post contributed by Meg Dowell. Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.
This one really spoke to me. I feel like I’ve been struggling to he past few years and breaking It down this way makes the issue clearer. Thanks for sharing!
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I chart my activities by the hour, almost daily. I skip the weekends) I can definitely see where I waste time. Charting has helped me to realize where the time sucks are. Before charting, I had mush LESS time. Awareness is super important. Thanks for your post.
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I saw the title, and thought ‘that’s me. ‘ I have managed to compromise by fitting in at least some writing every day. Feels good not to hate myself!
Reality piece – needed this reminder to be a better steward of time -ouch
Yep, using reasons like social media and ‘time poor’ are just forms of procrastination.
Reblogged this on Kim's Musings.
I have mini-spreadsheets in my calendar boxes, where I keep track of words written and hour expended. It give me a source of pride and strength to see that on my desk first thing before I light the old machine up and dust off the keys.
Planning out my day–hour by hour– the night before really helps. I put writing in first whenever possible. I can reward myself later with Netflix.
I’m definitely a Netflix Addict. In High School I never watched TV, it didn’t interest me… it was always reading and writing. Then when college got crazy I needed something else to focus on and Netflix became that escape from the life of a creative writing major… it’s like a drug.
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That’s a very thoughtful post , I’m sure I will start finding ways to short down other works and give writing a priority. I guess I should probably start writing my story that I had stopped before 6 months , I can’t believe I have spent so much time away from writing. Thanks for sharing those nice words of wisdom.
My hangup is I’m using an excuse I have an answer for. This makes me wonder what my real hangup is. I can probably bet money that my problem isn’t time and is more likely some hidden fear I don’t want to address.