Lake in the Olympics

There are things you will have to give up.

I’m assuming you are like me, trying to write while also working full time. Like me, you may have a family and hobbies that keep you happy and sane. A big part of your work as a writer is how to make time when there isn’t all that much excess time to start with. I am constantly making little shifts to carve out time to write. Over many years of trial and error, I have found that morning is my best time of day (fresh, open mind). Lately, my routine has been to wake up at 4:30 on weekdays to make coffee, walk the dogs, and write until it’s time to get ready for my workday. This usually yields me anywhere between an hour or two hours of writing time each weekday. 

Out of a constant negotiation for an equitable distribution of duties, my husband has been walking the dogs on weekends, while I sleep in a little longer. Well, guess what? I have been trying unsuccessfully to add more writing time to my weekends for months. Then, the obvious solution dawned on me. 

I negotiated for morning dog walking responsibility every day and won. Truth be told, he was happy to hand that job over. He’s less of a morning person than I am anyway. All for the best. 

When I told my son about this he asked, “But won’t you miss sleeping in?” 

The answer: No, not if I kept it framed in my mind as a choice I made. I get to get up early so that I can get some writing time. So, recently, I have given up sleeping in to make time, but that’s just the start of the things I’ve given up. Here’s some others: 

  • regularly watching TV or movies
  • phone games
  • scrolling social media
  • surfing the web
  • reading the news except in three minute digests

There are things you will have to give up. And, there are also practices that build your focus, concentration, and ability to believe in yourself even when the struggle is real. Like what, you ask? Like meditation, yoga, long walks–mindfulness practices that increase your ability to sit and just be in the moment, which is a lot like being in a scene of fiction in your imagination and trying to write through it. Writing guru Natalie Goldberg is a good source if you’re looking to zen up your writing practice.

If you are a woman, you will have to fight against a culture that has taught you that you are responsible for keeping everything together, that whatever needs to be done is yours to do. This one is the most difficult for me and is why morning is my best time for writing. I am the only one awake, so there is no one and nothing else to tend to. 

There are things you will have to give up, but if you’re like me, it’s an obvious choice. You’ve worked too long and too hard to give in to distraction and entertainment now.  This craft is the foundation you are built on. 

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