A while ago, I made a conscious change in the way I speak. When I couldn’t get something done, rather than saying, “I didn’t have time,” I started saying, “I didn’t make time.” There is a big difference, especially for someone who is writing on the side, in between other necessary elements of life: work, family, friends, sleep.
“I don’t have time” is accurate in some cases. When a big project comes up at work, when a family member is ill, when there’s a new baby at home, there really isn’t time to write. That’s okay. That’s good, even. Priorities need to shift sometimes.
In other cases, though—and in my case for a long time—“I don’t have time” is a passive way of organizing one’s schedule.
I always knew I wanted to write. In high school, I took a creative writing class, but not until my final semester, senior year. In college, I majored in English, but again, didn’t take a writing workshop until my final semester, senior year. At this point, I saw a pattern forming, and one I imagine a lot of people fall into.
In most people’s lives, time for writing doesn’t just appear. It must be carved out, explained to others, and stuck to.
When I started my first blog, I made the decision to make time for it. I was newly married, and my husband and I were setting up our life together. My decision to make time for writing was not mine alone. I told him what I wanted to do, and we found a way to make it work.
Two years later, when I realized I needed a larger chunk of time to write—both to refresh myself after a week of being at home with our toddler and to help heal after losing a child in miscarriage—my husband and I made more time for me to write. For over a year, Saturday mornings have been my writing sessions. Even my friends know that I write on Saturday mornings. They’ll still invite us to come to the playground or run in the park, but it’s always with the understanding that I probably won’t come.
To this day, my husband and I continue to set aside to spend with each other each week, as well as time for me to sit with my computer and keep to my schedule. The balance shifts at times, but we’ve both made a commitment to my writing, and that unity of intention makes it possible to write a novel while caring for two small children—a time when you really don’t “have time” at all.
The details of my experience are not universal, but I hope the point I mean to make is: whatever your lifestyle, if you want to write seriously, you have to make time for it. It doesn’t just happen. Make your intentions known, understand that you’ll have to make sacrifices at times, don’t apologize for it, and shift your priorities when necessary.
It might not by physical, but writing is an active endeavor. Be intentional with it. Be accountable to someone, if not just to yourself. If you’re waiting to simply have the time to do it, you might never get there.