Weekend Writing Inspiration: Making Time to Write
March 22, 2019
“How can I find time to write?”
As a writing coach, one of the most common challenges I assist writers with is helping them “find” time to write. On the surface, it usually presents purely as a time challenge. But often there’s more going on underneath the surface that gets in the way of writing than just time.
Let’s take a look at some of the undermining elements that stop writers from getting their fingers on their keyboards — primarily their mindset — and how to adjust it in a more positive direction.
Resistance makes you think you don’t have time to write
Resistance is an internal, oppositional force that stops us from taking action on pursuing any undertaking that makes us stronger, healthier, more authentic, and more fully and creatively expressed. The amount of resistance we feel toward taking action is directly proportional to their importance to us.
If writing is important to you (and I’m willing to surmise it’s hugely important or you wouldn’t be reading this), odds are your writing resistance levels are at astronomical levels.
This means that you’re going to have a very hard time “finding” time to write, because your resistance is going to give you all kinds of reasons for why and how you’re too busy to write — and they will be very plausible and convincing. Crazy day job with lots of overtime hours? Check. Super busy family life? Check. Volunteer commitments? Check.
Yes, these are real. We have jobs, families and other important commitments. But sometimes these commitments spill out of their containers and take up more life space than is warranted or deserved. When that happens, resistance is usually the culprit.
(Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art, is the seminal guide to dealing with resistance to any personal improvement endeavor, including writing. Highly recommended.)
How to spot resistance
If you think you might be falling prey to resistance’s lure, see if any of these fit:
* Are you spending time surfing the net and social, watching TV, playing digital games or engaging in other time, energy and attention-sucking activities that don’t feed you as a person or a writer, and that might otherwise give you time to write?
* Are you putting in lots of extra hours at your day job or in your home, getting every last task done just right?
* Are you spending time crafting perfect email messages when a quickly dashed off note will do just fine?
* Are you endlessly researching the perfect [fill in the blank] to buy so you don’t spend too much money or buy the wrong thing?
* Are you staying up too late, self-sabotaging with substances or other addictions or neglecting self-care, making yourself “too tired” to write?
There’s an element of perfectionism in all these, even including the seemingly distracting and self-sabotaging activities. Perfectionists believe they can’t write to the level they should be able to, so they find ways not to write at all; filling up time with other activities, even extending legitimate tasks to Herculean proportions in order to make it impossible to write.
Change your mind about “finding” time to write
If you want to find more time to write, you have to change your mind about “finding” writing time and start making time to write.
Writing doesn’t just “happen.”
Yes, we are periodically massively inspired to sit down to write for long stretches, but that’s not what gets screenplay after screenplay written.
If screenwriting is a career for you, writing regularly is what it takes.
Decide what you’re willing to sacrifice
Make time to write by taking an honest look at how you’re using your time and asking yourself if you’re willing to sacrifice your pet distractions and perfectionism in order to prioritize the writing life you want.
Cut corners where they can be cut.
Find places to settle for “good enough” so you can move on to your writing time.
Get up early and start your day with writing.
Go to bed early instead of net surfing or whatever else you might do late at night so you can get up early the next day.
Or turn it upside down and write at night, even if it’s for just a few minutes a day.
Aim for 15 minutes a day to start
If you’re struggling to find time to write, see where you can pare back any unnecessary time-wasters in your schedule to create an extra 15 minutes for writing. Resistance will tell you 15 minutes isn’t enough; that you have to have big stretches of time to write, but I want you to test that and see if it’s true.
What can you accomplish in 15 minutes of writing? Perhaps you can sketch out a rough draft of a scene or noodle out a character profile or brainstorm concepts. Check it out and see.
The beauty of writing in small increments of time is that because resistance believes you can’t accomplish anything of value in 15 minutes, it will go away and leave you alone so you can relax and write.
Your Weekend Writer’s Assignment
This weekend, first, before you do anything else, write for 15 minutes, whether you’re working on scenes, concepts, plot, structure or character. Get words on the page, even if
they aren’t perfect and even if you change them later. Make sure you reward yourself handsomely for your efforts too — you just beat resistance!
Once you’re done, map out a plan for the coming week to keep writing at least 15 minutes a day.
I’d love to hear how it goes! You can find me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and I’ll happily cheer you along. (And if you want a copy of The War of Art, join my mailing list and I’ll send you one, as long as you’re in the U.S.)
Got Questions You Want Answered?
After working with hundreds of writers over the last seven years, writing coach and Called to Write founder Jenna Avery has answers for you about how to balance your life and your screenwriting, trust yourself as a writer, fulfill your call to write, and more. Submit your questions to email@example.com or via Jenna’s online form and she may choose your question to answer anonymously in a future article.
Written by: Jenna AveryJenna Avery is a screenwriter, columnist, and blogger who redesigned her life and career to support her calling to write. She specializes in sci-fi action and space fantasy, and her most recent project is a post-apocalyptic coming-of-age story for a Canadian producer. Jenna is also a writing coach and the founder of Called to Write, where she has helped hundreds of writers overcome procrastination, perfectionism, and resistance so they can get their writing onto the page and into the world where it belongs. Jenna writes about writing, creativity, and calling at calledtowrite.com, for ScriptMag, for Final Draft, and teaches for Screenwriter’s University. Download Jenna’s free guidebooks for writers when you join her mailing list at https://www.calledtowrite.com/mailing-list