Hold your writing time sacred

Sometimes the more I want to write, the more life gets in the way. This week, for example, I had to pick up a prescription, take the dog to the vet and attend a special meeting for my day job. The job is only part-time and usually just nights and weekends, but sometimes we have these meetings right in the middle of my writing time. The ideas are flowing, the words are coming, and the clock tells me I’m 10 minutes past when I had planned to get dressed. So now I’m debating with myself. Can I do five more minutes if I don’t wear makeup? Can I wear these jeans to work? Do I really have to stop for gas?

Eventually I curse, hit save, and go to my meeting, but my story is still running around in my head and I’m tempted to blow off my job so I can write.

Even worse are the writing groups I’m involved in. The critique group helps me write better, and the other groups help me connect with people who can help me sell what I write. They also ease the isolation of writing alone, but the meetings eat into my time so that I feel as if I never finish half as much as I want to. Or course, eating and sleeping get in the way, too. One can’t work 24/7.

But that’s the life of a writer. We’re always trying to balance the need to work on our writing with the need to deal with everything else. I’m lucky that I usually have at least two uninterrupted days a week and  two or three hours every morning. I have those times because I have done everything I can to save them for writing. When the doctor’s receptionist asks if I can come in at 10 on Monday morning, I say no, I can’t. When a friend wants to meet for brunch on a Wednesday, I say no, I’m sorry, I’m working. Sometimes I take the phone off the hook and block the Internet while I’m writing. Do I feel guilty about these things? A little, but if I had a regular job where I had to punch a time clock, I would not be available during working hours. I may be at home, but writing is my job.

Your situation may be different. You might have to work all day. You might have kids, a spouse or parents depending on you to take care of them. But if you want to write, you need to find at least an hour on a regular basis that you will guard like gold. Maybe it’s not every day. That’s okay. Just schedule time for yourself to write. Make an appointment. Put it on the calendar.  Then keep that appointment. If a flitterbrain like me can do it, you can, too.

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