A Friend Asked Me How I Find Time to Write, So Here’s My Answer

wpid-wp-1437147121955.jpegOkay, so you asked how I find time to write and publish and wedding plan and work while I’m in grad school full-time. Good question. Well, I’m writing this on my smartphone during my morning commute to work. I take care of all my non-school/work correspondence (including blogging) in the morning before work. If I don’t get to it all then–well, then I don’t. I pick up where I left off the next day.

So first, it’s necessary to put boundaries around things that can bite serious chunks out of your time, like email and Facebook. I even allow myself only a certain amount of time each day to do my homework–right after work. It forces me to not dawdle because I have to get things done in that time. Maybe there isn’t something that can suck you in, and if that’s true, you’re one lucky duck. But otherwise, find ways to limit whatever it is that always drags on longer than you want.

Second, figure out when you naturally have some free time anyway–and reschedule it as your writing time. I used to have free time after dinner. I would just stay on the couch and flip to another show. Nope. Books and short stories do not happen that way. Now I get up after dinner, fix myself a mug of decaf, and write for an hour or two. It works even when Josh is home because he likes to put on a movie after dinner–which will keep me up too late if I join him.

Third, be merciless about your priorities. Decide who and what gets your time–and who or what doesn’t. You’re now a writer on a mission. Maybe you don’t have time for YouTube anymore. Maybe there’s a social activity that you enjoy–but not enough to justify setting aside your own goals. This is the time to get selfish with your time, so that you can be generous with your art.

Fourth, make it happen. Maybe emergencies eat into that carefully scheduled writing time. Maybe you fall behind on the day’s schedule and that means much less writing time–unless you compensate by cutting back from something else. Make a deal with yourself that writing will happen today. Yesterday I had a submission deadline to meet, and the day was getting away from me. So I cut back on a workout. I still got it in, but it was much shorter–and I made my submission deadline.

Basically, take yourself and your writing seriously. Decide that it’s up there with eating and sleeping–it simply has to happen. Cut things out of your life that eat into your precious time and don’t pay enough dividends in energy and inspiration. Don’t give your time away to everyone who asks for it. Make it happen.

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