Making Time to Write
We’re nearing the end of the first month of the new year. If you had any writing-related resolutions, you may now be realizing that you are not on track to complete them. If so, don’t worry. You are not alone.
It’s incredibly easy to get caught up with everything else going on and realize you don’t have time to write as much as you’d like to. But it can also feel disappointing to look back and see little progress. Making time for writing in a busy life is difficult, but it is important. So, how do you do so?
Identify the Benefits of Writing
It’s really easy to push writing to the side by deciding it’s a waste of time or not beneficial. However, there are numerous benefits to writing regularly, and recognizing those benefits can help you make a more informed decision about what to spend your time on.
Writing develops your creativity, exercising the often under-used right side of your brain. This increases your problem solving and analytical skills. Additionally, having something (like writing) to break your routine can reinvigorate you, thus increasing your productivity as you work on your other tasks. Writing also makes you a more informed citizen. How many hours do you spend researching while developing your setting and plot? Having to tell the story of characters that are different from you forces you to become more empathetic.
Beyond all of this, the most tangible benefit is probably the direct increase in your writing quality. Writing anything improves your skill, and writing regularly does so exponentially. These writing skills can be applied to almost every task and career field.
Obviously, I’m not trying to encourage you to give up on everything else to focus on writing, but I’m encouraging you not to think of writing as equal to scrolling through Instagram in productivity. Reassessing the value of taking time to write may encourage you to do it more.
Expand Your Definition of “Writing”
It’s rare that a writer truly stops writing. Sure, you may take a month-long break from contributing words to your WIP, but you probably spend some time every week subconsciously developing your characters or world. Whether this time is in the form of creating dialogue in the moments before you fall asleep or imagining you were your character during your morning walk, any time you spend thinking about your story counts as writing.
Even if you are creating scenes that you don’t think you’ll ever use, you’re figuring out what you don’t want in your story. It’s like revising without actually typing. If that’s all you have time to do, that’s okay. But if that’s the case, don’t be annoyed that you can’t write; recognize that even the little things can count as writing.
Don’t Be Afraid
Sometimes, the hard thing about getting words on the page is not finding the time to write, but using the time you have productively. We spend so much time staring at a blank document, struggling to figure out the best way to convey the message we want to convey. This time would be better used jotting down any ideas in your head. As Jodi Picoult said, “You can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page.”
If you only have fifteen minutes to write one day, don’t spend it worrying about a gripping hook to start your next chapter. Spend it writing out the events of that chapter. You can always come back to add in a better beginning.
This, unfortunately, means you can’t spend your time revising or editing. Instead, you have to forge onward. If you absolutely cannot move forward with your story without a round of revisions, select a day or time period when you will only revise, leaving the rest of your time for actually writing.
Basically, don’t be afraid to write poorly. Even if the product isn’t something you would want to publish, you should be proud of it. Progress—any progress—is a step toward a finished piece.
Hopefully, you can use these strategies to dedicate more time in your schedule toward writing. Good luck!