Don’t Have Time to Write? Yes, You Do

Want to fulfill your dream of becoming a novelist but just can’t work it into your busy schedule?

Yes you can.

Sure you were born to write, but don’t know how to do it, what with raising kids, paying bills, and keeping the house clean?

Yes you do.

Convinced you’d have a dynamite writing career if only you didn’t have to work for a living?

No you wouldn’t. Not with that attitude.

If you don’t have the time to write it’s because you aren’t creating the time. The real reason you aren’t writing has nothing to do with time—it has to do with motivation, self-doubt, lack of confidence, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of being the person you could be, or some other self-induced hindrance. But not time.

What happens to the person who swears they’ll write the moment they have the time? When that moment comes, they find another reason not to write. They get “blocked.” They have “emergencies.” Their ideas “dry up.”

If you long to write—if you truly want to write, as opposed to merely wanting to have written something—then write. Start today. Find the time. Create it. If you don’t do it today, you won’t do it tomorrow. I hate to quote a corporate logo, but this one is on the mark: Just do it.

How do you create time? Here are eleven ways.

1. Stop watching the news. If you absolutely must know what’s going on in the world, you can learn everything you need to know in the first five minutes of the nightly news cast. Better yet, turn on the radio while you’re driving, brushing your teeth, or feeding the cat.

2. Don’t make your bed. Don’t do any housework that doesn’t need to be done. Yes, I can hear all our mothers screaming out there, but the fact is that most housework is busy work. Who cares if you have dust bunnies the size of Humvees under your couch? Stick to the really necessary stuff—the dishes, for example. The toilet. An occasional load of laundry. If you find your refrigerator door is smudged, go write a short story—it will help you get over the shame.

3. Stop checking your email. How many times a day do you need to find out who’s sent you an advertisement for penile enlargement? Even if you get truly fascinating and important emails everyday—and let’s face it, you don’t—you still only need to check once. Look in the morning and, if you’re really desperate, again in the evening. In between, use that time to write.

4. Let the grass grow. Write, don’t mow.

5. Car dirty? Who cares?

6. Cut down on your grooming routine. Sure, you want to be clean and look decent, but if you’re taking longer than a few minutes a day on your hair, skin, nails, and clothes you’re turning into a fop or a bimbo.

7. Shop once a week. Store up all your errands for one afternoon, and get them all done in one swell foop.

8. Stop arguing. If you’re fighting regularly with a spouse, a parent, a child, a sibling, or a friend, just stop. Why not just bow out of that next marathon quarrel about who said what to whom and spend the time penning a personal essay instead?

9. Cook easy meals. Find 30-minutes recipes. Get take-out. Pick up stuff from the deli. Throw together some healthy sandwiches. Take the time and energy you would spend making a lovely meal and make a lovely poem instead.

10. Don’t linger in bed in the morning. Slow to wake up? Just can’t peel yourself out from under those snuggly covers? Think how good it will feel if you finish that story by the end of the week.

11. Write while you wait. For anything. Coffee brewing in the morning? Write. Sitting in the dentist’s office? Write. Waiting in line for a movie ticket? Whip out your notebook and write.

And what if, after all this, you only have ten minutes a day in which to fulfill your writing dreams? Grab hold of those ten minutes and don’t let go. Entire novels have been written that way.