I’m a writer, creative writing instructor, wife and mother of three young children. Currently, every weekday there are 17 tasks that have to be accomplished for my family life alone. (I know this because I am that person who made a list.) I have a to-do list for teaching, I organize a 3D Poetry Exhibit every year, and of course, my own writing life. Needless to say, I experience times when I feel way too busy to write. Here are three ways I’ve found to make time for writing when I feel I don’t have the time.
- De-clutter. No, now is not the time to finally read your copy of the The Magic of Tidying Up—you’ve probably already been procrastinating on writing. By de-cluttering I’m referring to clearing out mental space. Assess what you actually are spending most of your time on. Is it social media? Netflix? Judge Joe Brown? There IS something that is making you busy. Is all your time effectively spent? If not, consider replacing these habits with ones that feed your writing. However, if you are a (usually committed) writer who has been spending an inordinate amount of time watching The Price Is Right or Judge Judy, please don’t beat up on yourself. It could be that you are collecting. In its own way, “wasting time” can be useful to an artist. If it’s not somehow useful, however, let it go. It’s time to fill that time with reading so you will have fuel to write.
- Make a Date with yourself. Now this one is straight from the BOSS herself, Javacia Bowser, founder of See Jane Write. She says that you should make a date with yourself and schedule when, where and what you are going to write. I often end up writing after work (still at the school where I teach,) on Tuesday nights (it’s my night out—my husband and I both have one) or on the weekend. This usually happens on the floor, if I’m at home. One of the only places I can hide is behind my bed with my notebook. 🙂 Because of my family life, too, I’ve learned to write with my kids running around me. That may not work for you, but plan a time. Making a date with yourself means planning a specific time and place where you will write, and not standing yourself up.
- Join a writing group or find an accountability partner. There are writing groups in your community. If you are fortunate enough to be in an MFA program, you already have a writing community. Be thankful for feedback because in the “real world” it’s tough to find people who are willing to read and respond to your work. If you are not in an MFA program, do some research. Google local writing workshops and writing groups to find other writers. Even if only online, community provides a great support for your writing. Another option is an accountability partner. An accountability partner doesn’t have to be another writer. It just has to be someone you can share your desire to write with—someone who wants to see you succeed in that venture. Have a conversation with your accountability partner and let them know you’ve been struggling finding time to write but you really want to. Tell them your goal— for example: “I want to write a book by… I want to write an essay by… I want to finish this story by… or I need to make time to start my blog and I want to launch it by…” You get the point. Get them on your team. Ask them if they can remind and prompt you to get on track with writing. It can be anyone. It can be your mom. Ask your partner to check in on you and ask how you’ve been coming along with your work. Their only responsibility is to say, “How did writing go today? I know you said you wanted to launch your blog by February 25th, so how’s it coming? And of course, since you are partners, return the favor. Ask your accountability partner what they want to accomplish, and then hold them accountable.
What brings you back to writing, no matter how busy you are?
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