By Megan Alms, a professional writing student at Taylor University
The other day, I was asked what the most difficult thing about being a writer is. My answer? “Writing.”
In such a fast-paced world, it’s difficult to even find time to sit down at your desk, much less write a story or an article. But, believe it or not, the most important part of being a writer is writing. So how do you find the time to create the masterpieces waiting to escape your brain? Free time never seems to be in abundance. But here’s the secret: You can’t wait for your schedule to magically open up. Here are five must-do’s for writers who want to take their work to the next level.
1. Take Inventory.
Take inventory of what you spend your time doing. When you have a free hour, are you scrolling through social media? Are you watching Netflix? Are you doing laundry? Keep a journal or list if necessary.
2. Cut the Unnecessary.
It seems obvious, but if you want to make time in your schedule, you’ll have to cut some things out. If you get in bed at 10:00, but scroll through social media until 11:30, reserve that time for writing instead. If you watch a movie every night, put off your marathon until the weekend and spend those two hours writing.
There are some things in life that simply need to be done. Chores like washing dishes, driving to the store, exercising, and doing laundry will have to be addressed eventually. But don’t let that time go to waste. Listen to an audiobook while you wash dishes. Turn on a writing podcast during your drive to the store. Read while you walk on the treadmill. Brainstorm while you’re doing laundry. Do all of the things writers need to do outside of writing while keeping your life in order.
4. Set Hours.
Figure out when your creative juices flow. Do you get your best ideas late in the night, or does your brain function better after a good night’s sleep? Once you find your most productive time of day, make that your official writing time. No distractions, no interruptions—just you and your words.
5. Strive for Closure.
How many unfinished project files do you have on your computer? The biggest roadblock to writing is giving up. Yes, you may have come up with another brilliant story idea that you can’t wait to write. So jot down what you know and put it on the shelf. Finish the project at hand before starting anything new. Because as soon as you commit to a project, another, more interesting project always presents itself. Fight the urge to be distracted. You can start writing that once you finish your current manuscript.
The bottom line is this: If you are a writer, you will write. You might not always like it, but it will always come back to you. Writers need to write. Saying you’re a writer with no time to write is like saying you’re alive but have no time to breathe.
The best advice I have heard on finding time to write is as follows: “Not having time to write isn’t a scheduling problem; it’s a priority problem.” There are thousands of things you could (and probably should) be doing. But are you willing to give up your writing in order to do them? Every minute of every day, you are making decisions on what is worth your time and what is not. Where does your writing stand?