For the past several years I’ve heard a version of the same refrain from so many writers: I don’t have time to write.
It’s the number one challenge we face, especially when we’re also working, raising families, commuting, contributing to our communities, and the like. If you’re feeling frustrated by external circumstances and are placing blame on them for your lack of ability to write, that’s when you’ve entered a period I call The Season of Discontent. (I’ve been here many, many times, by the way.)
Here’s my three-part framework for moving through this season gracefully.
Step 1: Make peace
The first thing to do is accept what is. If you’re constantly dreaming up a perfect writing day that’s unachievable with your current lifestyle, you’re not doing yourself any favors. A better approach, I’ve found, is to focus on your circumstances today.
For example, if you’re resentful that your job requires you to be in the office for eight hours a day, see if you can reframe your company as a patron that empowers you to work on your craft without the pressure of relying on it for your livelihood.
Essentially, we need to get to a mental place where we’re content with our life as-is, and are willing to make a few small changes to help us write, no matter what.
Step 2: Make priorities
This step requires you to make some choices. As in, everything but one or two ideas *might* have to be temporarily tabled. I’ve managed to work on several projects at once, but it often spreads me too thin and then getting to step three (below) is more challenging.
When you know which story you need to tell now, or which social media platform to hang out on, or which book proposal to write, then you’ll be poised to maximize even ten minutes here or there.
Step 3: Make progress
This brings us to progress, an essential guidepost to help us feel empowered on the writer’s journey. And if you think you can’t make progress in the time you have, I wrote the first draft of Wild Words in just less than a year, in increments between 10 and 30 minutes.
Because my time was limited, progress would have been more elusive if I was also trying to do fourteen other things at the same time. Although I was still working full-time and helping raising a toddler, I said no to freelancing for a magazine I loved, stopped blogging, nixed my Netflix habit, and spent less time on social media.
Those are the choices I needed to make in order to focus on what I deemed to be my top priority for 2018. Essentially, this is the real-life process I used to write both of my books. They were written in the margins of my life, as most books usually are.