It’s ironic that I’m scheduled to write this blog post this week of all weeks. I am launching a new product; I’m competing in an all-day PitchFest, and; I’m headed out of town for a three-day professional development seminar. It is my busiest time of year, with the New Year spawning all sorts of resolutions from clients new and old to finally get their books written.
Who has time to blog? Or – heaven forbid – work on her own book? Not this girl.
And yet here I am writing a post about how we as writers, as Creatives, give our time freely and generously to other people. We fight other people’s fires to avoid working on our own. We fill our days with To Dos, tasks and schedules. The minutia of our day-to-day swallows us whole and takes us away from our creative spirit, takes us away from what we really want to do. For me, it’s writing.
I have a partially-written book that my editor is waiting for me to review, but my week is filled getting my clients’ books done.
Then I think, “The weekend!” I will write on the weekend. The Holy Grail.
But the weekend comes, and I have a house to clean and groceries to get and yoga classes, much-needed hair appointments, a man I’d like to spend time with, and so it goes. he time slips by. And my book doesn’t get written.
I am angry and frustrated. I start taking it out on myself and on everyone else.
And that’s when I realize. This has got to stop.
Writing my book is the last thing I should be letting go of. Taking time to nurture my creative spirit lights me up, refuels my tank, gives me jazz hands. And it is always the first thing to go when life gets pressured.
It starts slowly at first. I get up an hour earlier. I write a blog post. I start to schedule time in my calendar for writing.
Here is the thing about time.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you will have more time later or that “some other time” will be better. You won’t. It won’t. I always think I need a good run at it. Entire weekends of writing in my pyjamas without a shower and no responsibility where my creative spirit can roam free. And that’s great if you have it, but I don’t. I have an extra hour in the morning and can squeeze in 45 minutes (maybe) at the lunch hour.
I know that I also only have four hours of creative, focused, intense writing power in me a day. And most of that goes to my clients. So I will give myself one hour of it.
And that’s where I start.
Momentum gets built, and that is how a book gets written and finished.
Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I skip the 45 minutes in lieu of a nap or a mental-health brownie with a friend. But I try again the next day. And if I fail two times out of five? Well, that’s three more days of writing than if I had done nothing at all.
The only time your book ever has a chance of getting written in right now. In this moment. That is the creative process in action. The process is getting past one hurdle, swathing through the resistance, and getting your project moving along to the next phase. Like that old saying, “How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time.
So first. Like I said in See Yourself Writing a Book start somewhere. Do something. Take any action you can take, even if it’s small. Set a timer and write for 30 minutes right now. Ask, yourself, what is one action you can take today to carve out time towards your dream?
For me, today, it’s this blog post.
Second. Find a friend. And create deadlines, external accountability. I might let myself off the hook, but I will be way less likely to let a friend down. I told Melanie and Tanya that I would have this blog post to them today. So here it is.
Third. Be ferocious about your time. Protect it. Defend it. Bare your teeth. Treat yourself like you would a client. This is your sacred time. Do not schedule appointments or let other people step onto this space. It’s all we have.
Right now I am sitting in my car with my laptop perched against the steering wheel writing this blog post. I am 10 minutes early for my next meeting. That 10 minutes is enough to get me started. Are they ideal, inspiring writing conditions? Definitely not, but I have learned to take my writing time wherever I can get it.
I would love to hear from you. In the comments below, share any tips or tricks you may have to carve out time to write. What actions are you taking to finally get your book written? And if you are interested in finding out more about the NYC Writers Camp, click here.