I’ve talked about this before, but I just read a post by literary agent Rachelle Gardner and thought that this is something worth repeating.
Rachelle answered a reader’s question about tips on time management by saying that prioritizing her work is the best way she knows of getting through the day. She also talks about the things she DOESN’T do so she has time to do her work. Here’s a quote:
I’ve dispensed with a lot of non-necessary things in life… things I’d like to do if I could! But the path I’ve chosen means I’ve had to let go of some things. For example: I don’t scrapbook. I don’t knit. I don’t separate the whites from the colors… don’t clip coupons… don’t grow a garden… don’t make jam… don’t bake my own bread… don’t go to PTA meetings… don’t make my kids’ Halloween costumes… don’t homeschool… don’t remember everyone’s birthday… don’t run marathons… don’t go for manicures or pedicures… don’t watch Oprah. I don’t even vacuum or dust (I delegate those tasks).
A writer friend of mine has been struggling with finding time to write. She’s a single mother of three with a demanding job, and she’s trying to also live out her love of writing and fulfill her dream of getting her work published. She writes beautifully, and I have no doubt that if she preserveres, she will get her dream. But sometimes her schedule is so hectic, she doesn’t write for a few weeks or months, and she misses it. Of course, her addiction to TMZ doesn’t help either.
For us writers, writing is not something we think about sometimes and would maybe like to do if we have time — it’s something we have to do, something that pulls on our mind, begs us to pay attention. It’s a desire, a need. And when we’re not writing, we don’t feel entirely whole. We know that something is missing.
Rachelle’s quote reminded me that to make time to write — not find time, make time — is imperative. It’s the best thing we can do for us as people as well as for our dreams. Because we’re happier writing. And to make time to write, we often have to forego other things.
Like Rachelle, there are lots of things I don’t do that I would love time to do: I don’t do puzzles … knit … learn to play a musical intrument … get my hair cut as often as I should … keep the garden as nice as I would like … finish decorating my house … get my nails done … chat with friends … And ditto on everybody’s birthdays (sorry to my friends and families — know you’re in my thoughts).
This might sound selfish, and it is to a point. But it’s something I have to do right now, and my hope is that one day, I might be able to just have writing as my job, cutting out one of the tasks during the day. We’ll see.
My point is, if writing is important to you, make the time. I get up early in the morning so I can work on my novel before the sun comes up. Find your time and be selfish about that time. Make the time for your family and friends, you need that too, but look at your life and see what you can cut out or cut down on so you can use that time to write — then be selfish about those minutes or hours. They’re yours. Use them well.