Sunday Feb 05, 2023

Why “Making Time to Write” Is a Bullshit Excuse (And You Know I’m Right!)

Just a little while ago I attempted (keyword) to finish an article published in a magazine about writing. The title had something to do with saying yes to yourself as a writer. And the author lauded on and on about…well, frankly, I couldn’t tell you. She talked about getting lost on social media. She talked about savings quotes on Google Drive. She talked about hearing from another writer that they get up at 5 am to make time to write. Having been an exemplary member of the 5 am Club for a long time, I understand finding quiet time. With that, I have no argument.

I couldn’t finish the article. She bragged about making it (her first draft of the article) five pages long. Okay? And? I’m on what appears to be the last page that has the final two columns for your article. And. I. Have. No. Fucking. Idea. What. Point. You’re. Working. To. Get. Across.

Concision and clarity are your friends.

So, just based on the promised premise of the headline for said article, making time to write, I’d like to explain to why that’s total bullshit and why you know it is.

Like Everything Else, It’s a Matter of Priorities

I’ve already explained why those who want to write for a living must learn to treat what they’re doing as a business. I’ve called bullshit on excuses in general. I am nothing if not honest. Writing, regardless of whether you want to be a best selling author or “live the dream” of working from home as a writer (oh, and I am currently writing this in a former bedroom painted in nursery colors that still houses an old chest of drawers with a built-in book case, five toy boxes (yes, you read that right), and a full set of drums…oh, and this room is the hottest in the summer but it is NOTHING compared to the one time we decided to put some walls up in part of our garage to create a small working office for me…like, it’s a goddamn temperature wonderland in here!), it is all a matter of priorities and not a matter of time.

You get the same 24 hours in a day as John Grisham, JK Rowling, Stephen King, me, and every other copywriter I know. I worked two other jobs when I started copywriting, by the way. I had (still have, but two are now adults) three minor children. I dealt with AFib. I dealt with chronic fatigue. I dealt with (and still deal with) chronic insomnia.

It’s not that you don’t have time…it’s that you don’t want to give anything else up.

Do a Time Study

Here’s how I know that “making time to write” is bullshit…I know exactly how I spend my time. That’s partially because I have OCD related to numbers and extreme productivity (which I consider a fucking gift most of the time) and because having worked as a paralegal, I know that time is very easily divided up.

So, for the next week use a notebook to track your entire day. This includes, but isn’t limited to, personal hygiene habits (you damn sure don’t need to cut those), your drive to work, and every time you jump on social media or check your email. Track how much time you spend in front of the TV or playing video games. Track it all and don’t fucking lie to yourself.

How much time are you wasting (yes, wasting) on social media? How much time do you spend staring at a TV? How much time do you spend deleting email? How much time do you spend staring at your phone? Be honest with yourself.

You can’t really reclaim the time that you work at your day job…although there are studies that show most people don’t actually WORK the majority of their day – they read email and stare at social media. And then they feel behind and overworked…because they fucked up their own time management.

Take even a fourth of that time from social media (the average is two hours per day, but I have a sneaking suspicion that number should be MUCH higher) and put it into your writing.

You have time. You just don’t want to do it. You’re intimidated. You don’t want to do it. It may sound harsh, but we know it’s true.

Learn to Say NO

You do not have to be all things to everyone. You do not have to go to everything. You do not have to over-commit yourself. You can and SHOULD learn to say no. Your goals and dreams are just as important, but yet you keep putting everyone else first. That doesn’t make you a superhero. Eventually, it makes you a martyr. Be selfish. Say no. Most of the time, you do not owe anyone an explanation, either. Just say no.

Either write it or don’t, but stop pretending like it’s a time issue when it isn’t.

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