Think You Don’t Have Time To Write? Think Again…
Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. - H. Jackson Brown Jr.
Every one of our days has the same number of hours, minutes and seconds.
Every one of our years has the same number of seasons, months and days (give or take Febuary 29th).
You are living the same hours as me.
You are living the same hours as the leader of your country, the same hours as sports stars, rock stars, brilliant scientific minds and brilliant philosophical minds.
You are living the same hours as the authors you look up to and the writers you are jealous of.
You are living the same hours as your idols and mentors.
You have the same time in every day as every other person living on this beautiful planet.
You have the same time in every day as every person who has ever lived.
You have time to write. You have time.
You get to choose every second, minute and hour of the day how you spend your time.
You get to choose at any moment of the day what’s important to you.
There is no greater proof of your priorities in life than what you’re spending your time on.
Where Is Your Time Going?
You understand where the big chunks of your time are going but when you fall into bed on a Sunday night you’re always wondering how the weekend went by so quickly.
You remember the hours online, evenings out with friends, story research, the time at the movies, and seeking inspiration but when another month passes you wonder at what your word count could have been.
The simplest way to take instant control of your time is to start writing down exactly what you’re doing today.
There are a few different ways you can do this:
- Set a timer to go off every fifteen minutes throughout your day. Every time the alarm goes off write down what you’re doing.
- Use a calendar format and every time you change tasks write down in the time block what you’ve finished doing.
- Keep a simple list (or a Ta Da! list) of every thing that you do either when you start or finish something.
Try the option which feels the easiest and most useful to you for one day. Switch to another method for another day or continue with your preferred method for one week.
You’ll soon be able to see where you’re spending your time and often simply becoming more aware of our behaviour is enough for us to make different choices.
When you can see where you’re spending your time you’ll see where you can easily divert your attention, you’ll recognise the things you do out of obligation to others and you may find you are living your priorities after all, just not the priorities you thought you had.
Case Study: Relinquishing or Adapting Obligations
You are not going to be able to live a fully authentic, vibrant, happy life if you’re sacrificing yourself to meet the expectations of others.
We all commit to things that are right for us at the time we sign on for them. More often than not we stick with these things well after we out grow them. We don’t want to let anyone down. We enjoy the people we’re working with, we believe in the cause, but we want to pursue new challenges, new projects and new opportunities for growth.
I had this exact experience with Kiwi Writers. When I was pursuing fiction Kiwi Writers aligned with perfectly with my major creative pursuits. I had a member’s interest in the site, it’s challenges and content which allowed my attention to the site to blend well with the community, research and learning aspect of the writing process.
Last year I was transitioning from writing fiction to writing for this amazing idea of Colour Your Life and I wanted to spend my time exploring these ideas about optimism and happiness and positive psychology. I was no longer invested in Kiwi Writers as a member and if I hadn’t been part of the staff I would have naturally drifted away.
I had three options:
- continue as I was (let’s consider every option)
- extract myself as quickly and cleanly as possible
- transition the site to a point where I could take a less hands on role.
The first thing I did, which you can do too, is imagine my life without this obligation. The instant I did that a wave of relief washed over me and I felt a million times lighter. I couldn’t continue as I was.
The second thing I tried, rather naively with the benefit of hindsight, was write my resignation email to the team with every intention of sending it. This is a fantastic exercise to do even if you’re not sure if it’s the right thing because it cuts right to the heart of why you’re involved. Draft a carefully considered letter outlining your reasons for stepping down and what you wish for the organisation/company/event in the future.
This is when I really had my epiphany. I still truly, honestly, 100% believed in what Kiwi Writers is about (connecting, challenging & encouraging writers of course). I couldn’t send that email. My body physically recoiled at the act. This will be a moment of decision for you too. Forget about what anyone else is going to think of you and look inside yourself. Do you feel relief or dread at the thought of pressing send?
That left me with the third option. That was the point where I had the most amazing Skype conversation with my incredible VP Karen Johnson Mead and began relinquishing my perfectionist, controlling tendencies with many helpful reminders!!
If this is your choice too consider what role you could play that would align with the life you want to live now. Ask for help! Let go a little, or a lot. Find a way to contribute that resonates with who you are now.
Case Study: Are Your Priorities Really Your Priorities?
You can wish and dream for a writer’s life but unless you’re willing to make the choices and the sacrifices to live your dreams day by day then it is not the life you really want to live.
We do make time for the things that are important to us. We make time for our friends and family. We make time to earn a living and pay our bills. It’s easy to make time for those things that are socially acceptable and even expected. If you’re not finding time to write you need to look at what you’re doing instead and really ask yourself what is more important?
I had been wanting to lose weight and get fit for years but only truly committed to making it a priority last year. It was January 1st when I realised that if I really, truly wanted it then I would have to make it my top priority (after my family & paying the bills). I would have to set aside my writing. I had to make the conscious decision that spending my evenings and weekends on my health was more important than my writing.
Creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself is not something that can be done overnight, in a week or even in a month. You’re introducing major change into your daily life and it takes practice to form new habits, to reach for water instead of soda, to buy different groceries and learn new recipes, to find the exercise that excites you.
I committed to my health for the year and any other hobbies or interests I found time for would be a lovely indulgence. I committed to learning, experimenting and, most important of all, I committed to keep trying.
- I signed up for Leonie Dawson’s Radiant Goddess eCourse.
- I explored my emotional eating with Breaking Free From Emotional Eating and Women, Food & God by Geneen Roth.
- I tried every class at my gym at least once.
- I searched for new recipes.
- I rediscovered my love of swimming.
- I tried new foods.
I introduced all these changes gradually over weeks and months. I switched up my breakfasts, then packed my lunches, then found delicious quick dinners, then wholesome tasty snacks. I worked up from two days a week at the gym, to three days and then four.
Don’t kid yourself about how much time the things that are important to you take but it’s only by making the time for what’s truly important to you that you can live an authentically fulfilling life.
If It’s Important Enough You Can Make Time
You have as much time as you’re ever going to have.
Celestial bodies aren’t going to suddenly shift to bestow us with an extra hour every day. Although when daylight savings changes make the most of what may seem like extra time!
In fact, even if you were granted with more hours in your day unless you learn how to use them they would pass you by exactly as your current days do.
Start small and steady by looking at how you’re spending your time and try to find anything from 15 minutes to 1 hour each day or every other day or every week day or every weekend day to spend writing. Find the frequency and duration that fits best with your lifestyle.
You Have Time To Write! Tell me in comments how you are making an extra 15 minutes to write.
Kerryn Hewson spent seven years pursuing publication, working on several novels and short stories, until a two year novel revision resulted in a bad novel breakup. She reconnected with WHY she writes and realised that fiction didn’t have to be the medium to entertain, to create, to teach and to inspire. Out of that amazing realisation Colour Your Life and her pursuit of an optimism revolution was born.