Making Writing A Priority

 
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"Writing is something I really enjoy.  I just never seem to have time for it.  If I had a chance, I could write something really great, I just know it..."

Does this sound like you?  If so, don't despair.  We've all been there--to some extent I think all writers are still stuck in this difficult situation!  The good news is that anyone, anywhere, in any situation, can write.  Here are some ways to make it happen.  All you have to do is make writing a priority.  How?  Here are three simple things you can do:

  1. Schedule time for writing
    My first advice was to write in the "cracks" of your schedule.  That's fine once you've gotten started, and for some people it's all they ever need.  But most of us need a little more than that.  You're going to need to go over your schedule, meticulously, and decide where you can carve out some time for writing.  Get out some paper, and write down your usual weekly schedule, keeping an eye out for time you could put to better use.  An hour here, two hours there--it makes a huge difference.

    The trick here is knowing where to draw your lines.  Of course writing is not your first priority, and probably not even your second or third.  You probably have a job to worry about, a family to consider, and many other obligations.  But writing is probably more important than a lot of things.  So don't sacrifice your family time, or your job--but perhaps during your lunch hour, instead of eating, you could eat and write?  Instead of watching television after dinner, maybe write?  You have to make the calls.  But at some point, writing is going to have to be more important than something to make it into your schedule.  It's the only way.

  2. Make everyone aware of your schedule
    Now that you've decided on your schedule, you need to let everyone who is going to be affected by it know about it.  For instance, in my office (before I started telecommuting), if I was at my desk, I was fair game for problems and questions.  If your office is like this and you have decided to write during your lunch hour, you may need to let the people you work with know.  Even though you're at your desk, you're still at lunch.  For that hour, while you eat and write, you are just as unavailable as if you had gone out for lunch.

    Particularly if you are a woman with a family, this can be difficult.  It's easy to say "from now on, as soon as the dinner dishes are cleared am I locking myself in my room for an hour to write."  It's quite another getting the others in the household to understand this.  You'll need to lay down some rules--except for emergencies, you are not to be disturbed during this time.  Be prepared to gently remind family member of this--over and over.  Eventually it will become part of the routine.

  3. Defend your schedule
    This is the hard part.  Things are always coming up that need to be done, people who need your assistance or attention, and the easiest thing to do is just use your writing time to take care of it, "just this once".  Try not to do this!  It is the kiss of death for your writing plan.  Once that time becomes expendable, no one will respect its purpose; not even you.  It's important, especially at first, to take a hard line about this.  Emergencies are of course one thing, but if it's something that can be done some other time, then do it some other time.

    You're going to have to be uncompromising with yourself, too.  For some reason, no matter how much you love to write, as soon as you sit down to do it you will instantly think of and endless litany of other things you need to be doing.  Ignore that!  You will have time to address those other things later.  During your writing time, write.  That's how major authors continue to turn out new works so regularly; by setting themselves a writing schedule and sticking to it.  And during your writing time, you write.

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