People ask me this all the time. I mean all the time. As much as I express how much I love to write, I’m still asked this question as if it really confuses people.
When you LOVE to do something, isn’t it a little weird when someone asks you how you find the time to do it? I would like to think that whenever we love to do something, we simply MAKE time for it. That’s how I feel about writing.
My fellow writers can truly relate to this. As we’re writing a book or once we’ve finished and let our friends and family know, we hear some variation of this question. When I’ve finished my three books and even now as I’m an aspiring screenwriter as I’m working on or finish a project, this is what I’m asked.
I will admit, and I’m sure many of my writer friends will agree…to constantly hear any variation of this question is incredibly annoying.
For one, it seems as though it’s misunderstood that we simply love to write. I understand that we are in the minority and many people really do not care for writing. I’m not sure if it’s even those people who ask about how we have time to do so much writing. It’s mainly those who claim that they would write a book “if they had the time.”
Which brings me to my next one…it’s no wonder that so many people who claim they want to write a book and they would only do so “if they had the time” never actually do it, and here’s why.
Many of you who say you’d write “if you had the time” are expecting time within the day to just “open up” for you in order to make writing happen. That’s what you mean when you say that you “don’t have time.”
Well guess what? Time didn’t just “open up” for us as writers. We MADE THE TIME to write.
There seems to be this notion that we as writers have nothing but time on our hands. Some believe we’ve made so much money from our books that we don’t even need day jobs anymore. No families, no friends, no extracurricular activities, none of that. We are “only” able to write because just have hours upon hours to kill.
I’m going to take a wild guess and estimate that 95% or even more of us writers are NOT multi-millionaires. Hell, we’re not even half or quarter-millionaires. Our lives are just as busy as, if not more than, many of those who claim they would write “if only they had the time.” We have the same 24 hours each day that everyone else gets. Being writers does not automatically just give us extra hours.
You know what the difference between us writers and those who would write if they had the time? Again, we MADE THE TIME to write. We didn’t wait for time to just “open up” within our schedules. We forced writing INTO our schedules.
Wow…what a concept! Include writing as part of our routine? Yes. Do you know how, when your favorite show comes on television, everything is on hold until you finish watching? Well that’s what writing becomes for me. I put so many other things on hold until my writing, however much I decide to do for a certain period, is finished.
I very rarely watch anything on television at the actual time it comes on because of this. I only really watch sporting events as they happen (mainly because they’re LIVE and people will talk about them more often) and next Wednesday’s season premiere of ABC’s Nashville, because that’s my favorite show on the air right now. Other than that, that’s what the DVR is for. I’ll record and watch it later. Even Nashville, after this first episode, I’ll do like I normally do and record it so that my wife and I can watch on either Friday or Saturday night.
So, in order to include writing as part of my routine, that means I will have to sacrifice. Yep…there’s that dreaded word so many people can’t stand…sacrifice. Putting something else aside for the good of doing what YOU claim you want to do so much.
I’m not talking about putting aside quality family time or anything like that. Let’s be reasonable. There are so many things out there more important than writing. But let’s also be honest with ourselves. Most of the time, it’s not quality family time that’s preventing us from writing. It’s foolishness, such as playing around on social media for hours at a time. Watching television for hours upon hours. Playing video games. Things like that. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy playing video games. I just don’t do it very much anymore, mostly because I’m a writer and that’s where my focus needs to be.
Just like many other writers out there, I can think of other things I could be doing besides writing. Yes, believe it or not, we don’t write because we’re bored and there’s nothing else to do. Oh there’s plenty to do. But again, writing takes priority and everything else takes a back seat.
I think about writing all the time. I fit it into my schedule just about every single day. If it is something that can wait, then it will in favor of writing. Not to say that writing a book is easy by any means, (as I’ve self-published three of them myself), but when I decided to become an aspiring screenwriter, I had to turn up the dial. With screenplays (movies) or teleplays (television shows), there’s less actual writing involved than what goes into writing a book. However, it sort of balances out or even becomes more difficult writing a television or movie script because it’s at a much faster pace. A lot more has to be captured in a much shorter period of time. So that means that even with as much writing as I did when working on my books, with screenplays, it often feels like it’s so much more.
I don’t really have a set time that I write each day. The fact that I love writing so much makes that actually not a bad thing, because my love and passion for it will ensure that I’m still making it happen on a constant basis. However, if you aren’t that way, then it may not work as well for you. If writing is more of a chore, then it can very easily be dismissed in favor of something else.
When I wake up each morning, the first things I do is turn my alarm clock off, kiss my wife and make sure she’s awake, get our kids out of bed, and then as I proceed with my morning routine, I think about where writing is going to fit in on that particular day.
On top of that, I do actually carry pen and pad around with me in case ideas come to me throughout the day. I even started using the notepad and voice recorder features on my phone to record my thoughts as well. That’s something else that has become a habit of mine. I think about the places I’ll expect to be that day and I will make sure I take along something where I can do some writing if I need to. So essentially, I’m not only writing when I sit in front of a laptop. I’m doing it in so many other ways.
Once, I even took my laptop into the beauty shop as my daughter was getting her hair done. There’s not too many places I wouldn’t do that.
Time can get away from us very easily. Being a lover of writing doesn’t change that. That is why I make every attempt to force writing into a daily part of my life. I ALWAYS have something on me or at least in the car that will allow me to write in some way. Especially when I’m working on a new project. My fellow writers know about that writing flow. There’s nothing like it, and you certainly don’t want to mess with that. My random style of writing will very likely not work for everyone; in fact, I don’t even recommend that most people do it this way. But I’ve become so efficient (I feel) at doing it that even writing somewhat sporadically, I can still get a lot done and I have so far with each of my books and screenplays. It actually amazes me at times that I’ve been able to accomplish so much.
Then again, I’ve been in the Army for more than eighteen years, so of course, flexibility is our middle names.
I know that for many who don’t love, like, or even just flat-out hate writing, you may never, ever reach that point of writing the way I do. I don’t expect everyone to enjoy it or even do things the way I do. But when people ask me how I have so much time to write, the answer is simple, as expressed several times in this blog post…
…because I MAKE the time to do so. That’s really all there is to it. If I want it to happen, then make sure it WILL happen. Period.
Thanks for reading.