It’s Not About ‘Finding Time,’ But ‘Creating Space’

You can’t make more time.

Writers are good at creating a lot of things. It’s literally their job.

They’re not always so good at creating space in their lives for specific things.

You know, like, making dinners you can’t microwave. Calling family more often. Writing.

Say what? Writers don’t know how to make time for writing?

Why do you think so many people want to write books, but never do? Who dream of being professional writers, but never put in the effort required to make that happen?

People love the idea of writing, but don’t always know how to make it a staple in their everyday lives.

If you want to write, you have to write. You have to find the time. And create the space.

I personally find that blocking out large areas of time is helpful when I have a small number of things that need doing. If there are too many items on my to-do list, rather than power through them all, I will tackle them by ease, leaving the hardest, most time-consuming tasks for last.

You’re not supposed to do that. Because it never ends well. Or ends at all, completion-wise.

I have certain tasks in my planner designated as morning tasks, lunch break tasks (I know, that’s bad, too), and in-the-hour-after-work tasks. I know that if I need to write a script or blog post, it needs to happen between the hours of 3pm and 5pm, if it doesn’t happen at 7am when it’s ideally supposed to, otherwise, it won’t get done.

You cannot make more time. We all joke around and say we wish we had more of it, but that’s not actually the case. What we actually want is more control over the time that we have. And we’re much more in control of that time than we think we are.

Yes, there are time-sensitive things you can’t control. You have to learn to work around those. You have to attend meetings, pick up the tiny humans from practice or rehearsal or whatever it is they do after school or on the weekends. You’re not just in your own personal bubble, free to write whenever and wherever you choose.

At least, not all day. Not every day.

But you can — and often have to — create that small bubble here and there, where you can fit it in.

No, you can’t make time. But you can create space in which time, for a stretch, is on your side.

If that means you have to get up an hour earlier than everyone else, or stay up a few hours later than you’d like a few days each week, then that’s what you have to do.

Maybe it means you record your weeknight shows and watch them over the weekend, spending your would-have-been TV time on weekday evenings writing instead.

We don’t want to make these kinds of small changes. It feels like we’re sacrificing the things we love for something that feels more and more like a chore every day.

I’m not saying you have to close yourself off from the world, shut off all your technology, and only interact with your WIP. In fact, don’t do that — it’s bad for your mental health. And you’re not at your best, your most creative, when you’re not taking care of yourself.

But I am saying that creating space means there are going to be a lot of shifts in your life, big and small. It seems silly, at a glance, to put something like writing into your schedule. But if it’s not going to happen any other way, what can it hurt?

I know you don’t want writing to turn into something you hate.

But trust me. It’s not like getting out of bed in the morning — that thing you try to make less painful, always without success. Once you figure out where writing fits into your routine, and you start working on projects that matter to you, you stop dreading it. You don’t have to drag yourself into it as much.

Yes, it’s hard work. But those who make the effort to create will always see it pay off, in one way or another.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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11 thoughts on “It’s Not About ‘Finding Time,’ But ‘Creating Space’

  1. The space is so important for me…if it’s not in a study-like atmosphere or in a peaceful nature scene I feel blocked. It’s so weird.

    1. You’ve possibly accidentally conditioned your brain to perform best in very specific settings. Maybe not the worst thing — I mean, at least you know where to go when you need to get your butt to work. :)

  2. I agree with “Madebymejournals”. Space can be a big factor. I find I often do my best work in out of the way places. Sometimes that’s a library, often it’s whichever room is most isolated (often the basement).

    I do like to map out my week, consider what I know and estimate how much time I should be able to spend on writing on a given day. For example, on work days my max is 2 hours, if I also have exercises I reduce that to 1, but there are also weeks where I have big plans on the weekend, so I push myself to put in more time during the week to balance what will be lost because I won’t be writing Saturday.

    Another thing I’ve found helpful is always having my phone and/or notebook with me. Sometimes I have a random idea while I’m working, or going for a walk, and sometimes I have a few minutes while waiting for an appointment or meeting. Granted, I still need formal writing time, but every little bit helps.

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