Monday, June 3, 2013

Time: Finding It and Making It and What the Difference Means to a Writer

One question I get asked a lot when people discover that I'm a writer is, "Where do you find the time to write?"  It's a legitimate question, considering I hold down two jobs, besides the writing, and also have a family.  Time is something, if you look at my daily schedule, of which I don't have an endless supply.

Time is a funny thing.  We talk about it as if it were money--we spend time, we make time, we save time, we waste time, we find time.  The difference is, when we actually do manage to save money, we have a tangible measure of it (although it's never really as much as we would like, is it?)  There are innumerable gadgets on the market designed to "save" time... and I'm willing to bet a lot of us have spent (or dare I say "wasted"?) a lot of money that we "saved" to buy these items.  But where is the time we saved?

There is no time bank... no matter how much time we save, we can never find it when we need it.  If you don't believe me, ask any writer on a deadline.  Whether you're a student working on a term paper or a novelist trying to finish their edits, it seems like all the time in the world is never enough.  But who really has "all the time in the world"?  There are day-to-day intrusions to a writer's time--jobs, school, household chores, family obligations, and sleep.  And they are necessary intrusions.  Bills must be paid, laundry must be done, kids must be fed, WE must be fed... and whether we like to admit it or not, we DO need to sleep!  So where do we find the time to write as well?

What some people did while the rest of us were watching TV

Time to write is easy to find--if you really want to look for it.  It's usually hiding behind the time spent on Facebook.  Or behind the time spent watching "Duck Dynasty".  Or the really tricky spot...  behind the time spent on lunch out with friends, shopping with your mom, or going to a movie.  Granted, everyone needs time to relax and just do fun stuff.  The thing is, if you want to be a writer, you have to have time to actually write.  And since all days only come with 24 hours, you have to decide what is going to be given priority on any given hour. 

So what will it be?  Sixty minutes spent watching the same episode of "NCIS" you've already seen (come on, you know summer is rerun season!) or those same sixty minutes spent working on your poem, your story, your song?  Those thirty minutes spent sharing the same picture of Grumpy Cat/Capt. Picard/the most interesting man in the world with the latest pithy comment that everyone on your friends list has already shared, or those same thirty minutes scribbling in your writer's notebook?  And what about that lunch hour at work... why not brown bag it a couple of days a week and hole up with your notebook instead of spending an hour going out to the same lunch place you go to every day (not only will you "find" time to write, you might also--wait for it--SAVE money!)

And this doesn't apply just to writers.  Anyone who wants to do something, learn something, be something, has to invest time.  Whether you want to be a painter, a pianist, a teacher, a gardener... none of these things happen without setting aside time to work on them.  All the money in the world won't make you a better writer... but a little time every day spent honing your skills just might.


  1. Nice! You summed up all the things that keep me away from the pen. (cough Micrsoft office word cough)

  2. Having a fine supportive family/friends/colleagues who will urge you to spend that time writing may be just as important. Your Post makes me want to get right to my writing.

    1. Thanks, Joyce! I hope you do... any time spent doing what makes you happy is time well spent!