“The Hardest Part is Getting Started.”

-attributed to Stephen King, but basically every author in the world.

A reader recently asked me several questions about how I got started and how I got where I am today, with a finished manuscript, an agent, and a publisher. This blog is partly my own ramblings about my writing journey, but it’s also meant to be a helpful resource to those who love to write and want to share their writing with others, perhaps through traditional publishing.

As I started writing this post, it quickly turned into a monster with eight heads and writhing tentacles. Sheesh, it’s not as simple as I thought. So I’ve decided to break this down into more digestible chunks and we’ll continue as long as necessary. Today we’re going to talk about time.

How do you find the time? 

You don’t. You steal it from other places. I’ve written a little about that here, but I’ll expound a little more now. I do not have a job outside my writing, so I can’t fully empathize with those who do. I do however have a husband and three young children and a house and church and community responsibilities, all of which could usurp 30+ hours of my time and energy in a 24 hour period. Everyone is busy.  Everyone is busy for the next 100 years. Do not delude yourself into thinking that other writers somehow have more time than you, or that you will be able to write when a certain event takes place (i.e. all the kids are in school, or you win the lottery so you can quit your day job.)

Writing is something that can always be put on the back burner. You want to do it, the idea feels big and important, and yet it seems that other things are always calling for your immediate attention, whether it’s job, family, friends, community, church, or entertainment, or social media. Let me teach you a word that will help you out a lot.  

No.

Feel the magic there? There’s a load of laundry to fold and a sink full of dishes. No. Boom. One our of writing time. There’s this awesome TV show on that I love. No. Boom. An hour of writing time every week. There’s a party this weekend. I need to catch up on FB, Twitter, Pinterest… There’s yard work, family dinners, window washing, and sleep.

No. No. No. 

If writing is important to you, then it will have to take the place of other things that are seemingly or actually important. I can’t decide what that looks like for you. It’s a balancing act and I always seem to be teetering on one side or the other. I’m never totally balanced, and sometimes I regret the things I’m not doing in the name of my writing goals, but I haven’t plummeted to an untimely death yet, and my family seems to be in tact and relatively healthy and happy.

Start small. Give yourself a chunk of time, maybe two hours a week, that is solely for writing. If you can fit in more great, but carve out some time that is sacred writing time. Nothing is aloud to interrupt it. Turn off your phone and email. Go to a cafe or library if you can’t ignore the chaos around you. Just write.

And that’s all there is to it. 


12 comments

  1. So true.

    Except the exercising… don’t steal from that b/c then any excuse is good enough not to do it. You can catch up on cleaning, social media etc, but you can’t make up lost exercise time!

  2. Too true, Julie. I should not have mentioned that as something to give up, because I make it priority to exercise 5 days a week and it’s actually when I get some of my best ideas and solve my biggest issues. Very important. Revising…

  3. And this is exactly why my house is always something less than clean. 🙂 But like you said, my family is still alive and happy, and I get my writing time!

  4. And let’s be honest, isn’t everyone happy partly because you get your writing time? If Mama ain’t happy…

  5. yes, yes, and YES to all of it 🙂
    It took me a little time to get to the point where I started taking my writing time seriously. Once I got there it became easier to find the time, or to let other things go so I could have the time, I guess. There’s never enough time unless you actually sit and make the time.

    • and how many more times I can write the word time? LOL

  6. Great advice Liesl! I love the word NO. Took me a while to get used to the feel of it, but now I LOVE to say it! 😀

  7. I said no to Facebook and Twitter because I figured that joining either site would be too time-consuming, though I’m still tempted to join sometimes. I think that making time for writing is like exercising; once you get into a routine, it gets easier to do it.

    • Anonymous

    • August 29, 2012

    • 7:59 pm

    I feel like I’m making excuses , but I still feel what I try is not “enough”.
    I get about 30-45 mins of writing done now (because I force it), but I’d be lying if I said the day job wasn’t killing me in every way. I have those other committments also (community, church, family, chores) plus the 40 hour day job that is uninspiring. So I still force myself to write, but compared to my days when I didn’t have this day job, nothing seems the same. I feel like my words are not well-crafted or thought out. Similarly, I used to go for a walk and spark ideas for revisions (incredibly helpful to go for a walk and see a new way to do something and feel relieved that maybe one issue with the story is solved). Now when I go for a walk I feel like I’m unwinding from a lackluster and stressful day. And so when I do write its just “to get it done” and not as inspired or anything.
    Okay, that sounds pathetic 🙂
    I guess what I’m saying is that I’m writing, but I feel I’m cheating myself because it’s not what it could be or what I want it to be. But I have to get those negative thoughts out of my head or I’ll never get anywhere with things!

    Good post! I guess I will always force the time in to write, the real issue for myself is the lack of inspiration and craft that I see myself writing + loss of time to brainstorm in my head because I’m feeling “spent” from the day job.

    It would probably be easier if I actually liked my job 🙂

  8. Oh, that’s rough. I won’t pretend to understand how that feels, because even though I’ve had days when I’ve felt totally spent in every way, I also feel that being a stay-at-home mom is a luxury. I am my own boss, and I can shift or ignore the schedule to my own liking.

    But let’s chat about it anyway. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, right? Send me an email at sendliesl(at)gmail(dot)com.

    • Anonymous

    • August 30, 2012

    • 3:42 am

    Your so sweet.

    I’ll definitely email you when I get a chance to decompress my brain 🙂

    Ultimately nothing matters, I can’t make excuses. But I find myself so distracted/stressed that I’m lost. All excuses though. Okay: positive thoughts, new outlook 🙂
    Sorry, clearly I have a frazzled mind 🙂

    I so admire your work and writing and I know I need to need to be more resilient and determined! So forgive me if I sound like I’m “whining” (I need to work on that 🙂

    My email is giving me trouble lately, so when that is cleared up I’ll send you an email, but I’ll be more mature and professional then (I don’t want to bug you or take up your time) 🙂

    Anyway, I’m definitely looking forward to all your upcoming blog posts. Any kind of tidbits are always great 🙂

    Something I really need to work on is actually going to bed early. I’m a frightful insomniac and a morning zombie…I need something to knock me out 🙂 I’m like a ball of anxiety and stress 24-7 and I have no reason to be!

    🙂

    Will for sure Chat later, and great post!

  9. Great post! I’ve recently come to the same conclusion myself, spending less time online to focus more on writing. 🙂 The perfect reminder for all writers. Thanks for sharing!

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