I’ve just finished writing a tough chapter for my latest novel, one I’ve been dancing around for weeks, because it’s the start of the heart of the book, a love story that ends in death. Having lost my own great love that way, I knew going in there would be days like this.
But the chapter is finally done, everything I wanted it to be, and I’ll get feedback on how well I did from my writing workshop this weekend. As I save and put the file away for the night, I remember words I hear again and again from would be writers, and hope never to hear again...
“I wish I could find more time to write.”
You’ve heard it from greater minds than mine -- you don’t find time to write, you make it. You carve it out of the seemingly immutable rock of responsibilities you have to a world of others in your life, from work or school, to family. Yeah, writing is hard, or everyone would be a novelist. But come on. Is it really that hard?
Getting laid is hard, too, but except for the parents of young children, I’ve never heard anyone tell me with a plaintive sigh, “I wish I could find more time for sex.” They make the time if they want it and the opportunity is there.
Why is that? Why do people have no trouble making time for dinners out, dating, parties, movies, TV and a thousand other things we “find” time for, but expect writing time to magically appear? Is it that hard to make time to write, or is it your level of commitment? The simplest way is give up an hour of sleep - get up an hour earlier or got to bed an hour later. In a year, you have a body of work.
Too many people say they want to write when what they mean is they want to have written. They want the praise or congratulations on completion that they see you getting. What they don’t want is the long hours alone at a computer or pad, working out characters, plots, stories, immersed in a fictional world until you can explain it to someone else in a coherent form that holds their interest. Yeah, sometimes that involves sacrifice, but when it works, when you’re there completely, it’s one of the best things in the world to be doing.
It’s only a few hours a day.
Magically there’s still plenty of time to see people, explore the real world, do laundry, pay bills, clean house, live life. Maybe it’s by a third, maybe a half, but there’s room to write and room to live once you get up to speed.
I’m trying not to say the obvious.
If you’re really a writer, you have to write. If that’s true of you, you know what I mean. It’s in your head all the time: while you watch people, observe interactions between strangers, catch odd occurrences that aren’t the usual exchange. Things that interest you and send you off into explanation -- it must have been -- that leads you to conjecture -- it could have been -- which leads to story -- it should have been...
If you don’t find yourself pulled to the page every day, even when you say no, maybe you aren’t a writer, but only someone who can write. There’s a difference between being adept and being driven. Or maybe you need to let yourself be a writer, give yourself permission to live in your own head most of the time.
Maybe you just need to work harder to make it easier, to do enough writing that you aren’t starting from scratch each time you sit down. If you love it, really love to produce as much as much as most people love to reproduce, do it, over and over, see what works and what doesn’t, do it again and again until you get it right and people come to you because you do it so well.
Just like sex.
So all you would-be-writers, the next time you’re in bed or on the couch with someone locking lips, or at a movie, or a party with friends, just remember...
You can stop an hour sooner and have time to write, too.