Typically I’m thoroughly impatient with my writing students and clients who say they have no time to write. Their most common excuse for not writing is lack of time, but I’m unsympathetic.
At least, until recently.
For the past two weeks, my time—and my mind—have been so busy and fractured that I haven’t been able to write. My husband’s job as a landscaper is about to resume, now that every scrap of lawn in New England isn’t covered in snow as they have been for weeks. (Just after I wrote this, I looked outside and saw light snow falling.) He’s getting the trucks inspected, and a cracked windshield replaced. I had to take him to and from garages for those purposes. I didn’t protest. He’s known for chauffeuring me all over the place, since I’d rather be driven than drive. We were also buying a used car.
All the back and forth, picking up my husband from repair shops and driving 20+ miles each way on two different occasions to buy the car and the time spent checking it over seriously dug into my writing schedule.
Then there were the household and my business taxes to prepare for our accountant.
One of my husband’s sisters came to town and of course we wanted to spend a little time with her.
But at one point, I said: “I need 3 hours of peace. Three hours with no interruptions. Three hours to write.”
Then I remembered my own rules for getting that time:
- I limited my time surfing the web and participating on social media sites. That alone freed up a couple of hours.
- I didn’t do any housework, and wrote instead.
- I only cooked once (my husband usually does the cooking, anyway) and that was when I made a sugar cream pie to share with his family and our ailing downstairs neighbor.
Find more ways to get time for your writing.
Oh, and you might need to make some drastic changes (with photos), as I did a few years back.
Writer’s block is a different matter. Let me know if you’d like some tips to break through that frustrating condition.
If you need help managing your time so you can make progress on your writing project, check out my Testimonials and get in touch. I can help you stay on schedule.
Jennette Marie Powell says
You are so right, usually we do have time. We just need to make time to write. But I can totally relate to your week. My mind and time has been so consumed by selling apartments and getting the rental house finished and up for sale, there just isn’t anything left for writing. As in, I haven’t been watching TV or playing computer games either. I haven’t been doing much housework either, but it may be time to get my husband to do some cooking and dinner cleanup!
Lynette Benton says
I hear you, Jennette. And I like that you understand how it’s not just time, it’s a distracted mind that can keep us from writing. All the responsibilities, both necessary and stupid (like household paperwork, which seems to grow and grow) take up way too much real estate in our minds.
Oh my gosh – all of this rings so true and close to home. I’m a painter. Every day I tell myself that I am going to get good at saying “no” so that I can spend more time painting. Then before I know it, five days have gone by and I haven’t gotten into my studio for more than 45 minutes. Then I feel guilty. Then I swear I’m not going to let this happen again. Then the next day comes and my sister is sick, or my daughter’s car breaks down, or I forgot that I made a commitment that I would make dessert for the birthday party this weekend. And on and on it goes.
I can only speak for myself, but this is urgent. I am trying new approaches; getting up earlier, making an announcement that I don’t want to be disturbed for three hours (or maybe five), forcing myself to go into my studio, even if I’m really tired and it is 10:00pm. Once I get in there, my mind forgets everything else and I have some quality time painting. So thanks for this blog post! We can’t have too many reminders that most of us still need practice allowing ourselves the time we need every day and Your helps a Lot!!
Thanks Lynnette – for keeping me on my toes!
Lynette Benton says
I’m so glad you could relate to this post, to this horrid, frustrating feeling of never having enough uninterrupted time to work on our art. We have to constantly resolve to give ourselves that time!
Lynette Benton says
Terry, I so relate to what you wrote. There are always times when something really important interferes with our creative time, but I remind myself that there’s always time, even if it’s only a little bit. When I was working a 60-hour week, I managed to write, and to publish more than I do now, when I only work about 30 hours a week.
I like your ideas for how to get the creative time you need. One thing you didn’t mention is that going away from home to do your work is one of the best things for getting creative work done!
More on this topic later.
Linda Gartz says
I can only say that everything TAKES SO LONG. I watch no TV, never surf the web-unless I’m looking for important stories that relate to my topic (redlining, racism, social justice, etc.) so that I can share them on social media (which is critical, as you well, know. You’re one of my early models for getting out the word on Twitter). If we don’t do that, if we don’t write our posts, we might as well be the proverbial tree falling in the forest. No one will hear us and if we did make a sound, the sound won’t get out into the world. I’m terrible at tech: I’m just learning to do Mailchimp and spent 3 hours today trying to figure out how to, for example, edit a post (oh, it’s the button to the right of content labeled “restore.” Makes total sense! Not! My office is a mess. My husband cooks dinner; yet I’m working at my brand and book at least 10 hours a day. The most “off-task” thing I’ve done all day is to write this comment – but I like your posts a lot and want you to know I read them. So I think it’s important to support our fellow writers – as you have always supported me. But honestly, I guess I just have to keep trying to do things faster and faster and faster! Sigh. Thanks. Got that off my chest! 🙂
Lynette Benton says
I understand exactly how you feel, Linda! It’s overwhelming and sometimes I ask myself why I do it. I enjoy doing the blog because that directly interacts with my audience, but all the behind-the-scenes responsibilities of having a web site are frustrating, to say the least. I even have a webmaster who takes care of a lot of work for me, but I’m still left with way too much of the technicalities. What we writers want to do it write, not struggle with Mailchimp and a ton of other programs we have to manage. Thanks for letting ME get that off MY chest!
And again, congrats on your spectacular memoir, Redlining!