Thursday, October 21, 2010

On having time vs making time

With NaNoWriMo on the horizon, the inevitable discussions about making time, having time, etc., have begun all over the intertubes.

"I would do NaNo, but I don't have time."

"I don't have time to write every day."

"I wish I had as much free time as you do."

So, I've decided it's time for some tough love.

Now, there are people who have legitimate things occupying their time and keeping them from devoting as much time to writing as they'd like. When you're working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, then you do have less available time than someone who works part-time or not at all. When you have a full-time courseload at a university and have shitloads of studying to do, you're going to have less time available than someone who doesn't. It's simple math. There's twenty-four hours in everyone's day, but some people have more of that time carved out for non-negotiable things. 'Tis a fact of life.


My loyal blog minions who wish to write, whether for NaNo or otherwise, listen up. Note that I'm not talking about those whose schedule runs them ragged and leaves them with no time to breathe, let alone write. I'm talking to the rest of you, because I've noticed some trends on message boards and the blogosphere when people discuss their limited time.

If you can carve an hour a day out of your schedule, then you have time to write. Even if it's fifteen minutes here, ten there, whatever, every little bit adds up. Now, I know some of us are the types of writers who need a big block of uninterrupted time to write, rather than doing it in tiny increments. But if that's what you have, then use it.

Take advantage of every opportunity. Waiting rooms. Lunch hours. Setting your alarm an hour early in the morning or staying up an extra hour at night.

Write anywhere and everywhere. Don't play the precious snowflake who has to sit at a specific place in order to write. If your life allows you to have such a place and spend time there, then by all means, use it. However, if you have to take advantage of every sliver of time you can find, don't be choosy about the where any more than the when. As I've said before, I have literally written in airports, doctor's offices, banquets, and airplanes. I once had an emergency room doctor attach an IV to my right arm instead of my left so that I could continue writing (I'm left-handed).

"But...but...but..." I hear you say.

But, nothing. The times and places are out there, and if you want to write, you'll find the time and place to do so.

If you...
  • Can quote last night's Glee episode almost verbatim,
  • Can give at least three reasons why the judges on Dancing With the Stars are full of crap,
  • Know the life stories, musical strengths and weaknesses, and personality quirks of every finalist on American Idol,
  • Have an active and thriving Farmville account,
  • Post lengthy, daily blog entries about wanting to write, planning to write, and thinking about writing,
  • Engage in political debates on message boards,
  • Frequently have quiz results posted on your Facebook wall,
  • Create fan videos to post on YouTube,
  • Post on message boards about the discipline, dedication, and time commitment required to be a novelist,
  • Tweet or post on Facebook every few minutes to express your fury or happiness about the latest play of your favorite professional sports team...
...then you have time to write.

If you want to write,
don't bare your neck to time vampires.


  1. I was able to answer no to all of those!

    I don't perform well under pressure and deadlines... and I'm not a creative writer, or rather, not a creative fiction writer - more a creative non-fiction writer. But I did pick up No Plot? No Problem! after reading everyone's adventures last November. I sound conflicted, don't I? :)

  2. Preach it, Lori, PREACH IT!

    Sister, I've written books with the sentence here, paragraph there method. You cannot be the precious snowflake. You cannot be the victim. Everyone has the "time" they can carve out of their day. That's what NaNoWriMo shows us.

    Why is there only a MONTH for such discipline? True authors (and by true, I mean ass-in-chair-actually-writing-books authors) write like this every day.

    This reminds me of Jeff Foxworthy a tadbit:

    If you need precious, absolute silence to write yet your kids are always running around making noise--you might be a precious snowflake.

    If your kids barge in on you and interrupt your groove and therefore you can't write anymore that day--you might be a precious snowflake.

    If you must wait for the muse to be upon you rather than grabbing that bitch into a chokehold and MAKING her spew creativity--you might be a precious snowflake.



  3. Yes. For the month of November at least, I am able to neglect my volunteering, extra working, laundry, gardening, blog reading, TV watching, sleeping and child rearing to get another novel pumped out and ready for revision. One day I'd like to be able to write full time and work part time, but I'm not there yet.