If Only I Had the Time…

It’s the great fantasy for writers: the freedom to write full time.

You’re well-established or wealthy enough so you can write for as long as you like without worrying about supervising the kids or cleaning the house or working at a regular job. You have a clean slate of a day allowing you to just…create.

Alas, few of us get this freedom. Even writers who are fairly successful don’t usually get this luxury. And you don’t need it to be a highly productive writer.

Yes, you need time to write, but if you work smart you can grab the necessary time with exactly the life you have right now.

The best method is to find a time and place that you can write every day for an hour or two. That’s your sacred writing time and you honor it by showing up each day, or close to it.

Myself, I do it late at night when my family is asleep. Now and then I’ll skip it if I’m too tired or busy, but I don’t give myself that excuse very often. In fact, I’m usually eager to get there and have been known to tell my wife, “It’s past 11, you should really get some sleep or you’ll be exhausted tomorrow.”

You can accomplish plenty of good work in an hour or so, especially if you’re doing it on a regular basis because you’ve got your head in the game, you know what’s going on, it’s an ingrained habit, like flossing or working out. (Actually, I’ve never managed this discipline with flossing and exercising.) I daresay the hour or so every day is better than grabbing a big block of time every now and then.

A few things you can do to fuel that writing time:

Think about your story as you go about the day, jotting notes when something occurs to you. You see someone in the grocery store comparing two cantaloupes for an inordinate amount of time and you realize your protagonist has too much trouble making up her mind.

Talk to people about your work, letting them ask questions. “So if the alien is impersonating a human, what do they find most challenging about it?” Even if their comments aren’t helpful, the mere act of making yourself verbalize your thoughts will help.

Live your life. A writer who broods alone in a room most of them time will run out of things to write about, conveying a facsimile of life rather than the real thing. Struggle, cry, seduce, dance, fight—letting it all feed your work.

Guess what? I spent several years with the luxury to write full time, and I like my current method better.


Alex Steele
President

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