Why It’s OK to Say “I Just Don’t Have Time Right Now”

Is it wrong, every now and then, to be honest, and real, and say “I really can’t do this now?”


I’ve written a lot here about time management – sort of. My belief is that we always have more time than we think we do, and that not writing because we “do not have time” is an unacceptable excuse. But is it wrong, every now and then, to be honest, and real, and say “I really can’t do this now?”

That depends.

It depends on your reasoning. I’ve had a few rough anniversaries in the past few months, and sometimes when you need to take care of yourself emotionally, taking a day off from writing is not an excuse so much as a necessity. However, those are things we can plan for. I can look at my calendar and expect that I’m going to have a really rough few days on this day and that one, so I’ll do a little more writing ahead of time to make up for it. You can’t always plan ahead. Things come up. Life takes weird turns. Sometimes you just have to move writing to a lower position on your long list of priorities.

It depends on how often you say it. Once a month? Twice a week? If you are consistently using lack of time as an excuse, there could be a lot of underlying issues. You either aren’t invested enough in your current writing project to make the time for it (which does happen) or your life is quite literally a mess right now and you’re going to have to put writing off to the side for now. That doesn’t mean you’ll never go back to it. In fact, in putting it away for the time being, you should also plan when you’re going to pull it back out.

It depends on whether or not you intend to return to writing. If you close your notebook and tell yourself you’ll get back to it “later” because you don’t have time today, that’s a little dangerous. Deep down, you probably really do want to. But if you don’t give yourself an exact day and/or time when you are going to sit down and get some writing done, you’re just going to keep putting it off. That is when “I don’t have enough time” becomes the kind of excuse that holds you back.

You’re never not allowed to take time off of writing, whether it’s because you have to take care of personal issues or because you’re trying to focus on something that, at the moment, takes priority over your writing projects. It’s when we continuously use time as an excuse that it becomes a problem. I’ve been making very slow progress on my novel for months now – not because I don’t want to work on it, but because I literally have not had time. But will I get back into it in larger doses? Of course. That’s the difference. I haven’t abandoned it. I know that after next week, I have about a month to crank out the last 20,000 words, and I plan on doing that. Just not right now. Not yet.

When was the last time you said “not right now” because of time? Were you able to get back into it? Did you feel guilty about not writing? How did you handle it?

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

Image courtesy of pixabay.com.

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