Friday, December 5, 2014

Time is of the Essence

Time is an elusive thing. It can get away from you if you’re not careful. Before you know it, days disappear into weeks, weeks into months, months into years. And what have you accomplished? For many, the answer is not much. Well, it’s time to put your foot down and get something done—at least as far as your writing is concerned.

So how do you find time to write? Finding time to write in today’s busy world can be a real challenge. Ever since computers appeared on the scene, life hasn’t been quite the same. Now Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and God knows what other social media happenings fill the hours between sunrise and sunset. And don’t forget about Email. Sending and especially answering electronic mail can take up a big chunk of your day.

And then there’s work, school, or whatever other endeavor you’re pursuing, plus the time necessary for basic necessities like eating and sleeping—oh, and don’t forget exercising. So where does writing fit in?

Everyone has the same amount of time every day. How you choose to use that time makes you successful at what you do. However, if you aren’t willing to devote some serious time to writing, then perhaps you should take some time to think about how you use your time.

Focusing is the key. You must focus your time so that you accomplish what you set out to do in writing, as well as some but not all of the other stuff. You need to decide what you want to do and what you can do without, so that you can write more—or forget it.

The choice isn’t between writing and doing something else that you don’t want to do. The choice is among a nearly overwhelming array of things that you enjoy doing, such as checking in with your friends on Facebook, reading for pleasure, or having people over for dinner. Then there’s going to the movies, watching T.V., and traveling. You may rather do the dishes, walk the dog, or do laundry than write. So faced with so many options, most beginning writers tend to choose too many and feel like they’re short of time.

While some people can fit little bits of writing or editing in between other chores, that’s just not being realistic. To get any major writing project done, you have to dedicate time to it. To get published requires a considerable effort, so little bits of time writing here and there just won’t cut it.

Writing productivity demands dedication. To get anything done and done right, you have to just do it. And that means intense concentration for the time you’ve chosen to allot for writing. Wanting to write—a dream a lot of people have—and actually writing are two different things. Writing every day produces not only more writing but also more ideas for future writing. But writing posts on Facebook or answering Emails doesn’t count. The type of writing you should be doing is the kind necessary to advance your writing career and improve your writing skills such as articles, short stories, and plays.

Writing, like exercising, is its own reward. When you don’t do it, you feel as if you’re cheating yourself. Successful writers don’t just sit around waiting for inspiration, they sit down and begin to write. At some point, inspiration usually strikes. This is much like runners who exercise in all types of weather, no matter how busy their schedule may be. Like physical exercise, writing is often not enjoyable while you’re doing it. And like exercise, it’s just a matter of discipline. If you aren’t a disciplined person, you can certainly become one.

Distractions are the bane of serious writing. They kill the flow. So turn off the Email reminder and your cell phone and let voice mail answer for you. Stay in flow. Focus on what you’re writing. This is especially important for big projects like books. Find a convenient spot to stop for the day or stop after your daily quota if you’re writing fiction. Don’t write until you get tired. You’ll only have to redo it.

To stay focused on your writing while fulfilling your daily responsibilities, including answering Email and catching up with Facebook, set aside an hour or so every day to write. Or at least set aside an hour three days a week, or even one day a week. The key is making this time a regular slot in your schedule. Don’t let anything deter you from it. And while you’re at it, write at the same time every day. And lastly, write no matter how you feel----even if you feel like you don’t feel like writing. If you want to be a writer, you must write.