There just never seems to be enough time to do all the things that you need to do–let alone the things you want to do! It can seem impossible to find margin in your schedule for anything, especially writing. Where does it fit? Is it one of your highest priorities or is it the item that always gets bumped off your daily to-do list? Does it come after all the mundane “have-to’s” or is it a habit that gets checked off every day along with brushing your teeth and washing the dishes?
So many writers, myself included, struggle with balance. It can seem like we never have the time for our writing projects, and we put it off until the creative pressure builds so much we HAVE to write. The words pour out and we vow that this is *it*, this is the moment we change forever, we’ll never turn our backs on the writing again… Except we do, because life always finds a way to interrupt and push writing to the sidelines.
If this sounds like you, then you know it’s hard to keep your momentum when a project gets derailed every week. There’s a readjustment period each time you return to the work, when you have to find the thread and pick it up again, give it a few tugs before you can easily follow it to wherever it leads.
And you also know what it’s like to work on your writing every day (even for a short period). The dialogue comes more easily, the setting feels familiar. Nonfiction flows logically and smoothly. The resulting good vibes filter into your personal life: the birds sing more sweetly, the sun shines brighter and everything just feels so right. This is the way life is supposed to be! You–a writer!
Contrast that rightness with the way it feels when you know you should be writing, but aren’t. Guilt. Heaviness. Dread that you’ll forget or decline. Doubt that it’s even worth trying. It’s like you’re betraying yourself because you know you’re meant to write! (This is kind of a big deal, the idea that our interests choose us rather than the other way ’round.)
Do you think other artists feel the same when they’re not actively creating? I’ll bet they do. Psychologists have known for a long time that creative people must create or life sours and stagnates. If you need any more justification to practice your passion, remember: bad things happen when you repress your creativity.
The Hard Times
That said, there will always be seasons of life when writing is more difficult, and a few day when it’s impossible. Illness, crisis, and catastrophe can unleash havoc on routines and functionality. Times of trauma require us to keep our heads down and just survive. But I would say (and research backs me up) that you should get back to writing as soon as possible. Even if you have to crawl, even if others think you’re crazy or weird or selfish. Who cares what they think–this is *your* life. Writing is part of your recovery. It’s self-care, and a path to healing.
Writing with Children
Even new parents of young children can find time to write, if only for ten minutes a day. Ten minutes a day can become droplets of water that grow into a flood of words. If you feel guilt or doubt, do it for your family. When that tiny human grows up, would you want him or her to feel guilty for taking ten minutes a day for their passion? No; you’d tell them how important their gift is to the world. Extend yourself the same grace and lead by example. As they grow, tell them how important it is to hone their skills and practice their talents.
By now, maybe you’re thinking, “Alright, fine, I agree. But how? I’m already too busy to get everything done, how will I add in another task?” I hear you, believe me. And I hurt with you, because it’s hard. But if this was easy… Yep, everyone would do it. And I believe if you get intentional about making time for your important writing, something magical will happen–you’ll find little pockets of time you didn’t expect. It’s the way you’re rewarded for taking a risk on what’s vital.
I made a list of some of my favorite creative ways to find more margin in your schedule and put the PDF in my free resource library. Click the button below to sign up for access to it and other useful tools, planners, and challenges.
The most important thing to remember is probably the hardest thing. You have to want this. If you want it more than you want the other things that compete for your attention, you’ll find a way to make your schedule work for you. But if you let yourself be influenced by fear, there will always be distractions and annoyances to steal you away from your creative work.
So, first, set your timer to go off in thirty-minute increments for the rest of the day. Each time it sounds, ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing right now more important than writing?” Many times, it will be. Family time is more important, for example. But you’ll discover some things are time-wastes or unnecessary “busyness”. Make a note of these times.
Next, set an appointment with yourself–and keep it! If you want to write for ten minutes, set the timer and write for ten minutes no matter what. Put your phone on airplane mode or do not disturb and hold your appointment the same way you would if you were meeting with someone really important. Because you are!!
In the end, we all have the same number of hours in the day. But how we choose to spend them will be drastically different. As you priortize your work you’ll find that the things you use to do won’t have the same power over you. Binging on NetFlix will quickly lose its appeal, for example.
One more thing: learn to recognize the voice of fear and doubt trying to avert you. (Read my post on how to face fear here.) Acknowledge the fear, then do it anyway. That roar will eventually melt into a mutter, one that’s easily ignored.
You can do this! Still feel doubtful? Sign up for a weekly encouragement and my free resource library here. Now go write something!
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NOW YOU: How do you find margin in your schedule for writing? Do you know any innovative tips for finding more time?
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