Yesterday, I had (another) new idea for (another) new thing that I promptly jotted down and filed away because “I don’t have time for that right now.”
That’s right. Even I make excuses for not doing the things I really COULD do.
But thinking a little harder about that, I actually found myself wondering, “Aren’t there times when I really WON’T have room in my schedule for certain things? If I don’t have time for something now, how will I know when I will? Am I really making excuses, or feeling bad about legitimate reasons why I can’t?”
These aren’t easy questions to answer.
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been writing for less than a year or more than 20. Time and project management are some of the hardest skills to master as a writer — so much so that many never do. That’s why a large percentage of aspiring writers never get published. They just can’t manage it all.
I mean … if I still can’t get my act together, to be honest, it’s no surprise you’re still struggling.
Not that it’s a bad thing! Struggling is an excellent motivator. It teaches you to push yourself. To do better even when it seems impossible.
Figuring out how to use your time, as a creative … well, it sucks. I’m not going to sugar-coat it. Not only do we juggle many responsibilities — especially when you’re first starting out, you tend to wear a lot of hats all stacked on top of each other — but we’re constantly keeping track of new ideas, and all the things we wish we could do but don’t feel we can.
I’ll be honest. I’m still learning a lot about this aspect of being a writer. I’m not going to pretend I know everything there is to know about how to succeed at “being a person who writes stuff.”
But here’s what I do know: Somehow, as a writer, you have to learn the difference between “don’t have the time” and “don’t want to create the space.”
And you have to balance work with family/friends and self-care and giving your brain plenty of breaks and it’s hard and everyone has different solutions that work for them personally.
I find myself saying “I don’t think I can fit this into my life” a lot more than I’d like to. And that’s because, I’ll admit, I’m often afraid that if I spend a lot of time working on a thing, and nothing ever comes of it, that I’ll have wasted valuable time. And that’s not a good feeling.
It’s also something I’m really trying to work on.
Maybe you really do have time for that thing. You just know it’s going to take a lot of work, and you’re not sure where to start, and everyone always says to do that thing where you break a big project into small pieces but you don’t know how …
I’d like to help you with that.
So keep checking back. I’m here to help. I don’t know it all. But I do know enough to be able to publish content on this blog every day, and get paid to write stuff online, and, you know, put “writer” in all my bios as an actual job title. That’s pretty cool.
Time. We can’t create more of it. But we can do a lot better with what we’ve got.
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.