Today I want to talk about writing, and what it takes to get it done. I have a very full time job, an awesome husband, a (sporadically) active social life, and I’m up to date on How I Met Your Mother. I’m teaching myself French in my spare time, I get to gym, I blog and believe it or not, my house is mostly clean.
And here’s the thing: it’s hard.
If you’re waiting to find a magical formula, or a way to Do It All that’s easy, then it’ll never happen. You wouldn’t expect to run a marathon,1 cook a seven course meal, or become a prima ballerina without all kinds of practice. Getting writing done takes commitment and discipline. It requires sacrifice.
And here is my most important message of all: it requires writing. Because talking about writing is not the same thing as writing.
You have a choice about how you spend your time.
Reading blog posts, tweeting, posting to Facebook, catching up for coffee with writer friends to talk about craft? All good fun. None of them need to be abandoned. But if you’re doing those things before you get your writing done, then you’re doing it wrong.
I talked about some of my time-stealing secrets in this post. Here are some of the other things I do to make sure I get my writing in:
- I tackle my social media on my morning commute. I have lists on twitter to make sure I don’t miss anything I need, and I read and tweet then. It saves me getting sucked into social networking when I get home and should be writing.
- I have a rule: the time I spend on writing on any given day must exceed the time I spend on social media. So if I want to spend an hour clicking links on Facebook, that’s fine. I need to spend an hour and five minutes solidly writing.
- If I’m slammed, I take my netbook on the train, and write 25 minutes each way. I turn it on while I wait on the platform so I don’t waste any time. That’s 50 minutes of writing, and I can usually churn out 1,000 words. Sure, I’d rather watch a brainless comedy on my iPhone, but I make a different choice.
- I turn off the router, and put it somewhere that Husband will see me if I sneak out to turn it on. It’s disturbing how many times my fingers twitch to alt+tab to a browser window that isn’t there.
- I say no to invitations. I’d love to get out more, but when I’m in an intensive revision, I can’t. So I don’t. Simple as that. It’s a choice.
- I find extra time. I get up at 6:30am on a Saturday morning to catch up with some writing friends for a chat, which means it doesn’t eat into my writing time.
- I set targets: I tell Meagan Spooner, my co-author, what I’ll get done that day. And then I do it.
- I get my butt in the chair—after I’ve stopped for dinner I’d love to sit around watching TV with Husband. He’s handsome and witty, and super comfortable to lean on when I’m sprawled on the couch. Instead, I get back to my desk. I have friends who write while waiting by the side of the pool for their kids’ swimming lessons, or at 5am before the family wakes up. It’s about making a decision to get the writing done.
What do all of these have in common? They’re choices.
Ultimately, there’s no formula, and there’s no right way or wrong way. You know what you need to do. You need to get your writing done.
What do you give up to make it work? How do you find the time? There may be no formula, but feel free to share your tips here! Or if you like, make a commitment out in public, and then get to work!
- Unless you are my husband, and that’s a whole other story. ↩