As an author, there’s one question I get more than any other: When do you find the time to write?
On the one hand, I understand why people ask this. I have a day job that often demands much more than 40 hours per week. I have a husband. I have two teenage daughters who need taxiing and homework help and shepherding through life’s various complications. I travel a lot. I try to walk 10,000 steps per day. And in less than five years I’ve published 15 novels and numerous novellas and short stories (with more on the way). I can see why people might wonder how I do it.
But here’s the thing. Most writers I know are busy. And we don’t find the time. It’s not something we can order off Amazon or discover during a delightful traipse through the woods.
We don’t find the time. We wrench that sucker, bloody and dripping, from the body of our lives.
I’m currently about 10% into my 19th novel (if the math is confusing, novels 16-18 are currently in various stages of editing and production). I wrote over 3500 words of that book yesterday even though I have the kind of cold that’s turned my head into a snot fountain. When the screen grew too blurry to see, I Nyquilled up and passed out. Today I’ll be back at it, Kleenex at my side.
I have to write when I’m sick. When I’m tired. When the weather is perfect outside. When I have a 30 minute break between other activities. When the kids are being noisy. When my husband is watching football in the next room. When I’ve had a shitty day and I want to kill everyone. When my muse is giving me the finger. When there’s something good on TV. When I’m hungry. When it’s a holiday. When I’m staying in a hotel or relative’s house.
If you want to be a writer, you can’t wait for the time to come tripping sweetly into your lap, because it won’t. Time is an elusive monster.
I’ve given things up in order to write. I don’t watch TV. No, I mean that seriously. Zero. Zilch–except Game of Thrones, which takes up, what? Ten hours per year? I go to the movies maybe twice annually. My social life is sad. And I’m a planner, so what little time I do grab doesn’t end up wasted.
It doesn’t matter how many words you write per day. I try for 2000, but some days I don’t get there because I have too much else going on or my muse is being a bitch. Some days I manage a lot more, especially when I’m nearing the end of a project. My record is 7000. But you can set your goal wherever you want it. Try for 200. That might drain you dry for the day, or you might find yourself falling into a groove and managing a lot more. Either way, it’s words and you’ve written them. You can fit in 200 easily over your lunch break, while you’re sitting in the dentist’s waiting room, while you’re at the kid’s soccer practice, while dinner is in the oven, instead of watching that YouTube video. Wake up a little earlier or go to bed a little later.
Don’t find the time. Grab it. And squeeze it for all it’s worth.