Are you not writing your book because you cannot find the time? Or do you insist you need a longer amount of time than you have to give your subject matter the attention it needs? “I can’t write a book unless I have two or three hours a day, five days a week to devote to it.”
Right. That’s a surefire road to book writing failure. Would you force yourself to run a two-hour marathon when you haven’t even jogged 1/2 a mile yet? Setting writing expectations that are too high is the same kind of a recipe for disaster. Not many with busy work, family, and social life schedules have the time, energy, motivation, or persistence to make that kind of commitment to writing a book — or starting any new writing project. Even those who are professional, disciplined writers can have issues around creating enough time for writing the books you are most called to write. Here is the first secret I have found about writing a book. If you wait until you have “time” to write that book, chances are, you won’t. The same goes for “enough time.” You will never have “time” to write a book.
Look at “time” as one of the “guardians at the gate,” so to speak – whether you are a beginning writer or a well-published one. You and any writer on a journey to write a book face the “time to write” issue each time you take the first step of saying yes to your writer self–and for every book you write thereafter. Myself included. Even after 25 years of writing books, articles, and a blog, when I begin a new project or book or take a hiatus from writing and return to it, I am back at square one. I, too, need to reclaim the time for creating. I need to be like a wily coyote and gently trick it, entice it, ease it into being.
But then the miracle happens. The more I write, even if I only write 10 to 15 minutes at a time, the more I keep those appointments to write even for short time periods, the more actual time for writing opens, bends, flexes, and stretches for me. And that pesky time guardian lets me pass–for the moment. You can claim that time to write your book, too. And find yourself writing things you never thought possible–regardless of how much “time” for creating books you have or don’t have. Here’s how to create time for writing: Number One Secret to Managing Time for Writers: Do less. Expect less of yourself. Take yourself off the “I’m not writing, self-flagellating, guilt” hook. Eliminate saying you need at least two hours or you won’t be able to go “deep enough” to write something profound and meaningful.
Instead, stay in the “I don’t know.” Take the chance to give up that expectation and trust that you might surprise yourself and dive into those writing depths immediately. Reduce that “2 hours a day, 5 days a week” to a commitment of “15 minutes a day, 3 times a week.” If you still can’t find the “time,” reduce it even more to 15 minutes once a week or five minutes once a week. Then, add more time slowly. I recently went back to this practice myself. I had been on a hiatus from writing a novel. Initially, I tried to dive back into writing 2 to 3 hours a day because I have the “discipline” to do that and have written books, been a professional writer for 25 years. But instead of writing, I found myself playing computer solitaire, wanting to research every nuance of my subject matter, reading email (the death knoll to any creative spark), extending the length of my meditation practice.
Did I berate myself for not living up to my commitment? No. Well, maybe a little. But then, I lowered my expectations. What a relief. I remembered that being gentle and kind with my writer self is what had worked best for me in the past. Once more, I recognized that “resistance” is part of the package for most writers, including me. It goes with the writing territory.
So I dropped my commitment the first week to writing 15 minutes a day 3 times a week. I told myself that if I wrote more, fine. If not, fine. As I felt ready in the next week or two, I added to the amount of time I spent writing in a week. I’m up to a commitment of one hour a day, 4 to 5 days a week. I am slowly working my way up to a regular schedule of 2 to 3 hours a day on the novel.