I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for a couple of weeks now, but have struggled to find the time to write it. I have a full and busy life and sometimes simply don’t have time to do all the things I really want to do, like progressing my writing projects or updating this blog.
Hmm. Let’s have a look at what those phrases really mean: ‘struggled to find the time’ and ‘don’t have time’.
We all, as my husband is fond of saying, have the same amount of time available to us. That is, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No one can ‘find time’ – there’s no more or less of it each day than there was the day before. What we can do is organise our time, and choose what to do with it. Sure there are often time commitments – to a day job, to children, spouses, elderly parents – things we need to fit into each day. But except in rare cases and hopefully only for the short term, these commitments don’t use up the full 24 hours each day.
And saying you don’t have time to do something is really saying you don’t have enough motivation to do it. As an extreme example, suppose someone told you that starting tomorrow you need to drive for an hour and a half, sit in a quiet room for an hour, and then drive an hour and a half home. Every day. That’s four hours, every day. You’d snort and laugh, and say, well I simply don’t have time to do that! Now imagine that you have kidney failure. You need to undergo dialysis for an hour every day, and the nearest facility is an hour and a half’s drive away. Now could you spare the time to do this? Well yes, of course you could, because it’s either do it or die. You have the motivation to do it now, so you’d damn well spare the time to do it, and fit all your other commitments around the daily dialysis trips.
If you are motivated enough to do a thing, you will always find there is enough time to do it.
Ten years ago, before I began writing, I was waiting until I ‘had the time’ to write. With a full time job, a house to run and two children to rear (small then, hulking great teenagers now), I felt there was no time for me to write. Until one day a story appeared fully formed in my mind, and I sat down at the computer after my working day was complete, and began to write. An hour and a half later the story was written. There’d been time for me to write, and my company was still in business, the house was still standing and the children alive. From then on, I felt strongly motivated to write and therefore I scheduled writing time into my life.
My company is still in business, the house is still standing (I assume, actually we’ve moved since then!) and the children are still alive. And I’ve written hundreds of short stories, had dozens of them published, written two How To books, two completed novels, another novel part written, and kept the womagwriter blog up to date. Since then I’ve also increased my working hours, taken up running and when my mother began needing more support, I’ve provided it.
All out of the same 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that we all are allocated.
I don’t think I’m superwoman. I know other writers who’ve written novels while on maternity leave, written and promoted novels while bringing up toddlers and holding down a full time job, written and sold novellas at the rate of one a month. But I can do all this because I want to. I really want to. I love writing, want to produce a novel good enough to land me an agent and a traditional book deal, want to write and self-publish other books, want to build up my running so I can complete the Bournemouth half-marathon in a respectable time, and want to complete my projects at work on time and to budget. I’m motivated to do all these things.
Not always. Sometimes I say I don’t have time, and what that really means is, I can’t be bothered. So I veg in front of the TV, play a mindless game on my iPad, or laze in a hot bath with a good book for an hour or so. It’s ok to give yourself permission to take time out now and again. But overall, try to stay motivated so that you make the best use of your time.
Decide what you really want. Each day when you get up, work out when in the day you are going to go after your dream. Schedule that time in first, and make everything else fit around it.