If you’re subscribed to my newsletter, you’re probably aware of how I can’t stand the question “How do I find the time to write?”. As part of the online writing community, I see this question asked at least once a week and I’m a little tired of it because …
you can’t actually find time.
Time isn’t hiding from you. What do you expect someone to say when you ask them this question? “Oh, well I looked under my bed and found ten minutes. Then I found another five down the back of the couch”. That’s not how time works. You can’t get more of it. You have to manage it. YOU have to manage it. No one else can tell you how to do that. To manage your time, you need to …
understand your priorities.
The people asking this question usually put their lack of time down to working full time and having a family, as if published authors have never held down a job and are perpetually single. Everyone has a life. Everyone fills their 24-hour days with things. Writers who get stuff done use some of this time to write. Writers who don’t get stuff done don’t use any of this time to write. That’s simple enough to understand, right?
So why aren’t you using any of this time to write? Is it because you prioritise all the things you do do over writing? Is everything else you do with your time more important than writing? Fine, don’t write.
Writers who get stuff done use some of their time to write because writing is more important to them than other things they could be doing with their time. It’s as simple as that. If there’s nothing you can change about the way you spend your hours, then writing isn’t important enough to sacrifice anything else. When you ask someone else how you can find the time to write, what answer are you expecting? If you sincerely don’t have the time to write, there’s nothing I or anyone else you ask can do about that. I can’t help you find the time to write. You need to manage your time. And you also need to …
hold yourself accountable.
If you decide to go for a girls’ night out rather than staying in and writing, time is not what stopped you from writing. YOU made the choice to prioritise your social life over writing. Whether it was warranted or not, I don’t care. YOU’RE the one who is facing the unfinished novel, not me. YOU’RE the one who stopped yourself from writing, not time. And YOU’RE the one who gets to decide if that’s a problem or not, not anyone else (unless you have a deadline). I don’t care how quickly you finish your novel (unless you want me to edit it, of course). YOU’RE the one who looks at how much you’ve written and wishes you’ve written more. YOU’RE the one who can make changes to the way you spend your time to allow yourself to get more writing done. THERE’S NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT IT, so …
don’t ask questions you already know the answer to.
I bet you know all of this already, don’t you? You know time isn’t found, it’s managed. You know that there are things in your life more important than writing. And that there are things in your life you can sacrifice for writing. You know that if you really want to write, you’ll write. And that if your life is too full of higher priorities, there’s nothing a stranger on the internet can do to free up some time.
You knew the answer all along. As you were reading this post, you knew what changes you should make so you could finish your novel. And you knew that you’re the one in control of how much you write. And you discovered that no one is forcing you to write. It’s okay to be okay with taking ten years to finish your draft. It’s okay to not write when you’d rather do something else. Writing is a choice YOU make, not time. No one but you can help you find the time to write.
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