Want to be a writer? Well, that’s cool. But you have to start writing, you know? I have met so many people who told me they want to be writers and that they are writing a book ‒ in their heads. Sorry, but that doesn’t count. Unless it’s on paper ‒ or a screen ‒ even that War and Peace novel in your head is as good as nothing. Unless you start actually writing, you will probably take all those ideas to the other side and regale other unpublished ‒ or should we say unwritten ‒ authors in heaven or hell.
But how to find the time to write? Sorry again, but you will never find the time. You have to MAKE it. Cliche, I know. When I first read that statement somewhere, I rolled my eyes and cursed the smartass who suggested it. A few months passed. A few years passed. I didn’t write a single line because I was waiting for that magical moment when I will have more time.
Since the chances of that happening are in the same range as taking my unicorn for a walk in the park or flying on my broom under a beautiful full Moon, I realized that ‒ what a surprise! ‒ I will really have to make the time.
That is a huge decision. Life-changing. And, just like every huge decision, it isn’t easy. Stay at home and write when the Sun is shining and my friends suggested a picnic? Stay at home and write instead of hiking in a lovely unexplored place? Stay at home and write when there is a great concert on Saturday? An interesting play on Friday? Coffee with the girls on Sunday? Basketball with the boys after work…
Sure, it is important to hang out with friends and indulge in hobbies, but something has to be sacrificed. If you are not willing to compromise, you will never write that book. It’s as simple as that.
For years, I went hiking every weekend. I met with my gang at least once a week. I loved going to exhibitions, the theater, concerts, movies, new bars. And I read like crazy. And I watched movies at home.
Don’t worry ‒ I didn’t need to sacrifice it all. First, I stopped reading before going to sleep and got an hour for writing every night. I stopped watching movies once or twice a week and used that time for research. Three or four hours a week is more than enough for research. I hanged out with my gang every fortnight to make more writing time during the weekend and discovered that those outings were more interesting since more things happened in the meanwhile and we had more topics to discuss. I reduced hiking to twice a month. And long phone conversations are the worst killers of time. That goes for social media too.
And I finished my first book in six months. All those books, films, places to visit were still there, waiting. Sure, sometimes I felt I was missing out big time, but it was worth it, believe me.
Maybe your time-making doesn’t have to be as harsh as mine. Or maybe it has to be even more radical? What about your lunch break? Maybe you can bring a smoothie, sandwich, or something that can be consumed quickly and use the rest of the time for writing. Even half an hour daily is great progress. When you see that you finally put some words on paper, you will know how to steal more time from your day. How long is your commute? John le Carre used that time for writing, you know? With today’s technology, you can write on your phone ‒ use that gift. You can even quietly dictate into your phone while keeping an eye on your kid on the playground. You are already a superhero if you are a parent since you survived that sleep deprivation during the first year and this should be a piece of cake for you. You can dictate while keeping an eye on your dog in the park too.
However busy you are, there must be a way to steal an hour or two every day. And that is an excellent start.
And now, stop reading stuff on the Internet and start writing, please! Tidy up your desk or make a creative mess, and… you know what to do…