Monday, June 23, 2014

Do You Sabotage Your Writing Time?

So this month's topic for the Writers' Ramble is Finding Time to Write. Which we all know really translates to Making Time to Write. Which is really just making writing a higher priority than many other aspects of your life. So my question is not how do you find time to write, but what do you let keep you from your writing?

I follow Ferrett Steinmetz on Twitter. Ferrett is a fairly new author with a few dozen short stories published and his first novel coming out this fall. In following his escapades online, I've learned that he writes every single day, no matter what. Sometimes he'll send out a Tweet that says something to the effect of: I only wrote for twenty minutes today. But it was something. 

This has been a huge testament to me on the importance of writing daily. In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 Hour Rule. This states that you must first put 10,000 hours of work into a single task or talent to become a master or an expert at it. Then there's the saying that your first million words are basically crap. You have to write a million words before you will become an expert at writing.

Either way, there is a lot of writing to do in order to become a publishable writer. So how far are you in these long term goals? Last I checked, I had written somewhere around 400,000 words across my many, many short stories and few unfinished novels. I don't know how many hours that has taken. But needless to say, I still have a long way to go.

So how do I find (make) time to write? Honestly, I don't do it enough. Unlike Ferrett, I don't write every day. Currently I have a job with a lot of down time, which allows me to do my writing while at work on most days. Of course, I only work four days a week, and on my three days off I tend to let life get in the way and don't do any writing. Then there are all the distractions at work that keep me from writing. Besides the actual work I have to do, I let myself get caught up in Twitter, writing forums, games on my Kindle, daily crosswords, and other meaningless junk and suddenly it's time to go home and I haven't done any writing. Sure, some of those things, Twitter/writer forums/writing group submissions, are writing related and make me feel like I am still working on my craft, but that's bogus. The best way to hone my writing is to write. And I don't do it enough.

What keeps me from writing at home? My wife and kids for one, but that's not something I'm willing to sacrifice. Then there's yard and housework, church duties, extended-family functions, and such. Things that I could cut out, but really shouldn't. So then there's the very small amount of free time I have to myself on any given day. And what do I do with that? Video games and/or TV shows. Mind you, this amounts to only a few hours a week, but still, it's something that I could and should be willing to give up if I ever want to reach my goal of being published. 

I know a lot of writers who set daily goals and schedule their writing time at certain hours of the day. Some people get up early to write, some stay up late. Some use their allotted lunch break or kids' nap time to get a few words on the page. This is a great way to do it, and one that I highly recommend, even if I don't follow the advice myself. 

The bottom line is that you will not be successful if you're not willing to put in the time. If you want to be published, if you want to be able to call yourself an Author, you have to put aside the distractions, schedule the time, and put pen to paper (figuratively). 

Don't let your life sabotage your dreams.

For more thoughts and suggestions on this topic, visit the Writers' Ramble

1 comment:

  1. You make a great point that, while writing needs to be a high priority if you're going to be successful, it should not come at the sacrifice of family and the things that are most important in life. It's a fine line, though, and I suppose I'm lucky in that my husband also writes which means isolation for writing time can actually act as "bonding" time, lol. I don't know how many words I've written, but I'm willing to wager not nearly as many as you… I have a lot of work to do!