Life has a way of intruding on anyone’s desire to write, whether one is a professional, a skilled beginner, or a newcomer. The babysitter cancels. “Real” work—the paycheck kind—commands time. There’s a trip, a rescue mission, or a carrot that needs slicing. The house is a mess. Your mother calls a lot.
They’re all part of the daily realities of the writing life. So what’s a well-intentioned author to do?
Schedule it. Stop grimacing. It’s an ugly word, but scheduling is the answer. Writing requires self-discipline. It also requires realizing that your contact with the creative world need not be connected to the perfect setting: soft music, a seashore full of mind-gentling waves, a cabin in the woods a la Thoreau, a library table or any other pensive site.
No, scheduling your time to include writing means choosing a regular schedule and sticking to it. Tell that gossipy neighbor you’re not available during those hours. Don’t answer the phone, answer the siren call of internet shopping and Facebook, or stop to clean the house (I mean, why would you? There is no better excuse for not cleaning!). Do the expected chores—man or woman—and then absent yourself.
And if your schedule only allows one hour three times a week, then stick to it religiously. Don’t fritter it away.
Decide, also, what time of day works best for you. As many writers choose the early day as late evenings—this depends on the demands on your life as well as your best time for clarity and focus. If you are lucky enough to be at home, there is more choice—though you may have to get up earlier than usual to carve out that writing time. Children complicate the writing process, but writers have been having them for as long as history relates. Utilize naptime and go ahead, cave in to the television set for an hour, if that will hold them. Or do a kids exchange with a friend to give yourself (and her) time.
In other words: no excuses.
Believe me, you will come up with them in abundance, but you’ll need to learn to respect yourself, and your goals, enough to put them higher on the daily list. Respect: little word with big meaning. Don’t tell yourself that writing is for free time, or for those without pressing commitments. It is for you as well. Time is precious. Give the process as much of it as you can afford, and stick to the goal like juice on a kitchen floor. Let your own creative juices flow!
The only other thing that has to stick is your seat. Keep it in the chair, in front of whatever implements you use for writing, and away from all those other tasks. Even an hour a day adds up over the course of a week, a month, a year.
Tell yourself you can do this, because you can. You just have to want it.
So remember: scheduling, self-discipline and respect.
And no excuses!
Ann Connery Frantz