For many of us, writing is a passion. We observe, daydream, jot notes, and become lost in our worlds. Then we come to the paper or the computer and bring those worlds to fruition. We are storytellers. We are artists. Yet, even if we are in the middle of writing and a friend or family member calls to ask if we are busy, we tend to say no (which is always followed by the inevitable “I was wondering if you…”).
How could you tell the friend that wants you to come to a birthday dinner or the family member that needs help moving that you are writing and, therefore, busy? You go out, you might have fun, but even in that fun, you have denied yourself your passion. Once you continue to say yes, it gets harder and harder to say no. I used to be one of those people that had a packed social calendar, yet I was miserable. After years of saying “yes”, I learned it was okay to say, “No”. I also learned a few others things that I would like to share with you in case you are denying yourself time to write:
Cut Off Your Phone
Unless you have an invalid parent/child/spouse that relies on you or someone is in critical condition, you need to cut off your phone. Otherwise, incoming text messages and phone calls will distract you. What is the point of saying “I’ll write for an hour today” if you spend half of the time responding to other people?
Create a Schedule or a Promise
If you have a set work schedule where you know what time you will work and what days you have off, plot out time slots to write. Unless an emergency arises, stick to those time slots. If your schedule is erratic, create a weekly schedule based on the number of hours you would like to write per week. Is it 5? 10? Start off with a workable amount then build your way up. If an event arises during your time slot, it is okay to say no. If you really want to go, try to get those hours done before you attend. That way, you will still get writing done for the week and you can enjoy yourself without feeling guilty.
I am a morning writer. After 4 p.m., I get distracted and after midnight my brain turns to mush. I have a friend that wakes up at 3 a.m. and writes to 5 a.m. everyday. If you are a morning writer and you work from 9 to 5, consider getting up a little earlier everyday. If your body can adjust to daylight savings time, it can also adjust to waking up earlier to write.
Treat Writing Like a Job
No one else around you will take writing seriously unless you do. My friends used to look at me as if I were speaking to them in tongues when I told them I could not hang out with them because I had to write. At first I felt guilty, but the less I wrote, the angrier I became. It was not until I took myself seriously and bowed out of events that they learned to take me seriously. They learned to respect my time.
Find a Support System
Whether it is this wonderful site, a writing group, a writing class, or a writing program, surround yourself with people that take their craft as seriously as you. They will respect your time. They will understand.
I will end with a short story. A couple of years ago I had a friend that had just graduated from college and was unsure if she should get a job. She had fenced throughout high school and college and although she was not sure what she could do with it, she still practiced about eight hours per day. Today, she is a part of the US Team, she has tons of medals, and is one of the top fencers in both the US and the world. What has always struck me is that even before she had achieved any level of fame, she took herself and her passion seriously. She committed. The only way to be a successful writer is to take it seriously. Most of us hope to be successful writers. First, we must simply write.