Principles for Finding Time to Write

Help! I Don't Have Time to Write!

“I don’t have time to write” might be the most common lament I hear among would-be professional authors no matter where I meet them. I get it. Life in the 21st century is busy. Life as an adult is even busier. Finding the hours to really make a go of your writing career amid the demands of working a full-time job, being a full-time spouse, parent, and/or friend, mowing the lawn, fixing dinner, and the myriad other hands on our time can be really difficult.

But it’s not impossible, because here’s the thing.

When you say “I don’t have time to write” that’s not what you mean. What you mean is “I am currently prioritizing other things above my writing”.

Everybody has the same amount of time. It’s what we do with that time that differs from person to person. You write less often than Stephen King and Cherie Dimaline because you have to fill some hours with stuff other than writing. You put writing second, or third, or fourth, or fifth, or sixth.

If what you’re prioritizing above writing is the health of your family, commitment to a fulfilling day job, or a hobby that makes you happy, all right. That’s perfectly fine. Maybe this isn’t the year you make your writing a serious commitment. Maybe it’s even the year you decide you never will, because these other things make you perfectly happy and writing can remain a hobby.

In most cases, though, the thing we’re prioritizing over writing is binge-watching Netflix, or social commitments that don’t bring us joy, or arguing with people on the internet, or working a job we hate. If you “resemble that remark” it’s time to make some changes.

And even if your life is more like the first option above, there has to be a way to move writing up that priority list so you write exactly as much as you wish you were writing…however much that may be.

Authors Who Sing This Refrain Generally Fall Into One of Three Categories

The three  categories are:

  • Procrastinator: writers who do other unimportant things instead of writing
  • Juggler: writers who make slow progress because they’re doing too many things at once
  • Sisyphus: writers who have too much on their plate to make writing happen right now

Each is a different kind of “not having time to write”, and each has a different prescription to solve.