So there’s this thing that happens when you’re a writer. Say you’re sitting in the dentist’s chair and they see you’re dressed in yoga pants and a t-shirt (your uniform).
“You off work today?” they ask.
“Nope, I work from home.”
“Oh, that must be nice,” they say with an acid tongue. “What do you do?”
You sigh because you’ve had this conversation a million times. Still, you’re not a liar and they’re nice, so you tell the truth. “I’m a writer.”
“LIke magazines or something?”
“No. I write books.”
3 … 2 … 1
“Really? I’ve always said I’d write a book if I had the time.”
You guys, this conversation plays out like this every damned time. When it happened this week, the hygienist had me captive while she scraped my gums and told me about the book she wanted to write. It was that day I decided I’m going to start telling people I am a mortician or an accountant or something.
Anyway, my point is, everyone who says they want to write a book uses lack of time as the excuse for not having written one.
But I bet they …
Watch TV every night.
Sleep in on the weekends.
Drift off on the train and on airplanes.
Spend their lunch hours gossiping about Frank in receivables.
Take 15 minute smoke breaks three times a day.
Play Angry Birds on their phone while they’re sitting on the john.
Each of us–well, most of us–have time during the day that we can reclaim. Yeah, RECLAIM.
No one is going to give you time. You family isn’t going to spontaneously say, “Hey, mom, you look like you’d love to write right now. How about we be exceptionally well-behaved for an hour so you can write?”
If you want to write, really want to, you have to make it a priority. Like eating, sleeping, and sex. I’m not going to blow sunshine up your ass like some writing teachers and say shit like, “Fifteen minutes is all you need!” That’s bullshit. If you want to write good fiction, you have to good chunks of time so you can focus and go deep into the world you’re creating. That’s not ALL you need, though. If all you have is fifteen minutes, use them. But you also need to give yourself a good block of time every now and then–maybe Saturday morning from 6-8 or Sunday evening from 9-11. Or maybe you wake up every morning, an hour before you family rises. Or maybe you sit your family down and say, “Look, guys, this is important to me. I need your help so I can make this happen.”
If they balk or tell you you can’t do it, find a new family.
Even if they don’t support you, you have a major ally. Yourself. Reclaim your time. Write something. Finish something. Read books. Go to conferences and classes. Making learning to write your part-time job. Or most-of-the-time hobby. Whatever. Just do it.
If you want writing to be your life, you have to make room for it. You have to work for it. That means, you don’t sit around in your PJs on Saturday morning watching reruns of Saved By the Bell. It means, you grab you paper and pen or your laptop and go write some words. It means, maybe, instead of that girls’ weekend to Vegas, you spend that time and money on a writing retreat or convention.
How much more time are you going to waste before you put your pen where your mouth is? Stop talking about wanting to be a writer. Stop wishing and hoping and praying. Put ink to page, fingers to keys, and mind to story.
All those moments you take back are gifts you give yourself. You deserve a gift, don’t you? Of course you do.
So tell your kids to read a book for thirty minutes. Tell your husband you’re not watching So You Think You Can Dance tonight. Skip the fast food lunch today. Bring a sandwich and go write in a park.
No, friends, time isn’t on your side. But if you want to write, you have to be your own ally and take responsibility for the efforts you’re making to turn your dream of someday into today’s reality.
Go. Write. Do.