Writers love to make excuses. We love to procrastinate. Blame it on that ol’ writer’s block that plagues us all the time. But our favorite excuse is the busy schedule. You know, the full-time job, the kids, softball practice, the dishes, etc. The stuff of life that prevents us from sitting down and typing out a chapter for the novel that’s been sitting around for days, weeks, months, or years.
I know the busy schedule excuse very well.
When I was in college 9 years ago, I was flooded with homework, research papers, and imminent final exams, but somehow I managed to crank out a novel and not flunk out of college that semester. How did I do that? It’s simple…I got up early and wrote.
Throughout the month of April 2005, I woke up an hour earlier than usual and devoted that time to pumping out 1,000 or more words on my book. It wasn’t easy to rouse my myself at 6am to write, especially after a late night of studying, but completing the novel within a month’s time was definitely worth it.
Now the novel itself was a crummy first draft and in severe need of editing, which didn’t come until much later. Unfortunately, I fell into the nasty habit writers tend to succumb to: procrastination. My first draft sat for 8 years without a single edit, collecting dust in a binder in the closet. I graduated college, got married, and had a child before I finally stopped making excuses to not write.
The excuse I used time and time again was that I was too busy. My schedule couldn’t allow time for polishing the novel. I would sit and try to write, but something more pressing would always come up. Does this sound familiar to you?
The truth is we devote time to the things we deem important. For 8 years, my novel was not important to me. I easily found time to play video games, watch movies, and putz around all the time, but when it came to writing, my free time was suddenly nonexistent.
We all have responsibilities and priorities in life, but we always make time for leisure. Even the busiest person on earth will find time to do something that matters to them whether it’s watching the latest episode of Dr. Who or volunteering at a food shelf.
So fellow writer, I will ask the obvious question: Is writing important to you?
If it isn’t important, you’ll always find an excuse to doing it and your novel will never be finished. But if it is important to you, then I encourage you to do what I did to finally complete my novel: get up early and write!
Sure, it’s difficult and nobody wants to sacrifice some sleep, but you’ll be surprised how effective it can be. I never considered myself to be a morning person, but now I’m an unabashed 5am writer. The house is quiet and my family is asleep at that time, so I can enter into the focused state of mind needed for writing without fear of getting distracted or interrupted.
If you’re completely adverse to being an early starter, then stay up an hour later at night to write or bring your laptop to work and write on your lunch break, which I also do on occasion.
The bottom line is this: stop making excuses and make the time to write!
If you consider yourself to be a writer, then it’s time to sacrifice some time for your craft. Otherwise, you’ll fall into the same pitfall I did and end up going nearly a decade before getting your priorities in order.
Thx for the encouragement through example.
No problem! I’m glad I could provide some insight. I’m still learning to stay disciplined, so this post is also a reminder to myself to stop being lazy and write!
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