One excuse I have found myself using time and time again is that I simply don’t have time to write. I keep telling myself that maybe I just need a writer’s retreat, a nice long week in a cabin in the woods, away from all distractions. But we’ve all seen how that movie ends right? Ha.
Anyway, life is full of distractions. One of my first blog posts on this blog was talking about how it took me twice as long to even finish my blog because I kept getting interrupted by my two small children. Even as I write this my 3 year old is playing the “Mom…mama…hey mommy…MAMA” game. And when I finally say “What?!” she gives me the sweetest look and says, “I just want to give you a hug.” HAHA, of course she does. She only wants to love on me lately when I’m in the middle of doing something. It’s like kids have some kind of a built in radar. Mom is in the bathroom, now is the exact time I NEED a juice box. Mom is doing the dishes, I need to go potty right now (even though I just went 5 minutes ago). Mom is on her computer, she must not be very busy since she’s just sitting there, let’s see how many hugs she can give me. And honestly, I’m not trying to complain. I realize that’s EXACTLY what I’m doing but please know that I do cherish my kids. I love every moment I spend with them and I enjoy every break I get as well. It’s the moments I’m without them that I get to miss them and makes being with them that much more special. But back to my complaining…
It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day hustle and bustle of life. There is always something to clean, someone to shower with attention, animals that need to be walked, families that need to be fed, friends that you haven’t seen, money that needs to be made, bills that need to be paid…you get the idea. Life is hectic enough without adding hobbies and dreams on top of it. I have my hobbies of making soap and photography. I enjoy crocheting and reading (or rather listening to audiobooks more often lately so I can cram every last bit of hobbies into my crazy life). So between the normal life craziness and maintaining relationships, adding my true dream of becoming a published author on top of it all seems a little…insane…but writers are crazy anyway right?
There are countless articles about finding the time to write. And some of the suggestions are great. Things like making writing a priority or setting small realistic word count goals in principle are easy enough to do. There’s even something called the “Pareto Principle” or the “80-20 Rule”. Wikipedia explains it as,
“The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes”
In order for this principle to be effective you must cut back on all the meaningless things that we do. I for one have spent WAY too much on IOS based games. I hate to even admit the amount of time and energy I put into a certain mobile game that may or may not have been promoted by a certain model by the name of Kate Upton. After seeing how many consecutive days I logged into my account and how little time I had put into my writing I decided it was time to give it up. So I sold my account, (yes sold it…someone actually spent $50 for a mobile game account) and I deleted the app. Another fun thing to do if you’ve got an iPhone is go to the battery saving setting and you can actually see what apps are using the most of your battery. I found out that if you click on it, you can actually see how much screen time you have spent on each app (and also how much they are running in the background). On average I was spending an hour a day on the Facebook app. That is an hour of my day that I could have spent writing, or researching, or doing anything better. There are countless ways to cut out this unnecessary wastes of time.
Another suggestion I have heard a bunch is to not ask permission to write. If you ask for the time you need for yourself, people can say no. Sounds a bit selfish right? Well good! To follow your dreams you need to be a little selfish and it’s not in a way that’s hurting anyone. Would I choose writing over spending quality time with my family? No, not really. But it is perfectly acceptable to tell my husband (especially after being with them all day since I’m a stay at home mom) that I am going to disappear for an hour after dinner to write. Could I write after they go to bed? Sure. But would it be my best writing since I’m obviously exhausted from chasing the littles around the house all day? Probably not. (Even though I will say that one of my best writing sessions came from an all nighter but that was before my two youngest were born)
Some people will say that you should set aside a time every day to write. It’s like scheduling a meeting with yourself. Find a quiet spot, or wherever you feel most inspired, set a timer, and write until you hear that ding. I like the concept behind this tip but I also don’t feel like it always super practical. I tried it once (again pre-babies) and found myself getting involved in other things that always overlapped my writing time. This of course was on me. And some people might argue that I just didn’t want it that bad since I wasn’t making it my priority. And maybe that’s right. But I do feel like there is a balance. I would miss certain writing times and try writing later in the day. Or if I missed the time all together, I would normally double the time the next day. This of course was just setting myself up for failure. Same goes for setting a word count goal.
Let’s say you want to write 300 words each day. You sit down to write but end up being so focused on how many words you are producing instead of just writing, or being in the moment. Sometimes the time or word count limit can actually help to spark a greater idea and turn into pages and pages being written and who knows…it could be your greatest chapters. So, do I think these two methods are hopeless? Not one bit. I think that they are a great way to make a commitment and hopefully stick to that commitment. But because real life happens, don’t get so caught up that you drive yourself nuts.
I look at it like I look at dieting. Let’s compare word count goal and counting calories. If you are on a diet where you are counting calories, you are obsessing with numbers every day. Let’s say you have a moment of weakness and are over your calorie count. There are some of us that would get so frustrated with ourselves and take it as a failure. So you either overcompensate or fall of the wagon. I found myself doing that when I was being too strict with my word count or even time limit goals. I would miss a session and promise the next day I would double the count but then I would only get half of it in the next time and then it just kept adding up. Eventually I felt so defeated that I took a month off writing. And as we know, taking any time off can just lead to more time off and before you know it, you are eating large pizzas and chocolate cake and deciding you really don’t feel like going to gym. (Ok so my metaphor got away from me a little there. But I think you get the point)
In today’s digital age we actually have a lot of writing resources at our fingertips. Earlier I explained that I was spending too much time playing games on my phone. That time could be better spent elsewhere (obviously). In my searching for ways to reinspire me to start writing I came across an article about apps to get your writing on track. “13 Productivity Apps To Help Keep Your Writing Goals On Track” lists apps from helping you to start writing and staying focus to blocking distractions and getting organized. I’ll admit I have not yet checked out the apps themselves. But even just writing that makes me feel bad and will have to check them out and maybe I’ll write about which ones I like.
There are so many great ideas for helping me to find time to write. I just need to buckle down and make the commitment to myself and my story. Even now, I’m spending the time writing this article instead of my novel. But I will not allow myself to feel bad about it. Writing is writing. It’s keeping the habit up. I’m still a bit blocked when it comes to my novel. It’s starting to come back to me. But after almost a 4 year break from it, it’s understandable it would take me a little time to get back to it. I have been researching. I’ve been reading through past chapters and making little edits here and there. I keep a handheld recorder on me at all times just in case I don’t have something to write ideas on. Slow and steady wins the race. I know that all my efforts will be worth it when I finally finish and can hold my book in my hands. But maybe now is the time to start setting those goals I talked about. Even with my hectic life I can spare even a half an hour each day to devote to my story.
So there it is, another blog of mindless rambling about how I need to be writing. I hope you enjoyed it or maybe even got inspired to try some new way of staying on track with your own personal writing goals. Did I miss anything that personally works for you? If so, leave a comment below. Or simply leave a comment to say hi!
And as always, thank you for reading my blog. It means a lot to me.