Jaye Wells

Craft Thursday: Time Ain’t On Your Side

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.

You dig?

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.

Just kidding.

Kind of.

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.

7 Thoughts on “Craft Thursday: Time Ain’t On Your Side

  1. Susan Palmer on October 3, 2012 at 2:43 pm said:

    Jaye…wow! I say breathless….just ended my time with Sabina. I don’t want to say it ended due to the fact I didn’t want it to end ….I will read again but hope you can spin off or continue. Her sarcsium is, refreshing and current. Don’t stop. A fellow Houstonian

  2. Great post! I have a day job wherein I OFTEN have chunks of time where I am not busy and an employer who is not a jerk about it. Thus I can write during that time and have finally started DOING IT! It took me a while to get conscious about the fact that I HAD some chunks of time that I wasn’t identifying properly as potential writing time. I got about a 1/4 of a chapter written today. So yeah. Time and space is something I have to create, not wait for anyone or anything to give it to me.

  3. Fabulous post! Exactly the kick in the butt I think everyone needs. I know I do. I have definitely learned that if I want to do something, the only one stopping me is MYSELF. I have to carve out the time in order for it to happen or else, I’m just playing online…

  4. This. Absolutely this.

    I think it’s akin to people saying they’d workout if there was time. If you really want the change (and it’s fine if you don’t), then you find a way to squeeze in a workout. And much like getting into an exercise program, making time to write is going to require sacrifice and there will be days where you’d rather watch TV. It’s all about priorities.

  5. If you tell people that you work from home, it is probably best that you don’t follow up with the fact that you are a mortician.

    Just my humble opinion.

  6. JayeWells on October 22, 2012 at 9:19 am said:

    Cathy, you just made me snort coffee out of my nose. I would love to see someone’s reaction if I told them I was a work-at-home mortician. LOL

  7. Thank you SO MUCH for posting this; I really need to get my ass in gear. There are always excuses. One of them is that, like you said, people just don’t get it. It’s really disheartening sometimes, and I’m ashamed to admit that it affects me too much when my family and friends put down something that I am so invested in. As for the rest: we have so much time on our hands to just waste it on nothing, but I’m happy to say I’ve spent some great time reading the Sabina Kane books! The mythology of Sabina’s world is enthralling!

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