Time to Write

When I first dreamed of being an author, my biggest stumbling block was finding time to write. I was a college student. I waitressed nearly every day in order to make enough money to go out with my friends on weekends. And every now and then, I would sit down and try to get some bits and pieces of the stories floating through my head transformed into solid lasting text (that I didn’t read and cringe over later).

Unfortunately, it took several years for me to realize that a writer can never “find” time to write. It’s not something that is just lying around behind a pile of dirty laundry or under a stack of books waiting to be discovered and made use of.

Time to write is CREATED.

For far too long, I was passive in my approach to being a writer. I somehow absurdly thought that if I wanted it badly enough (and did), it would all just come to me… the time, the inspiration, the skill to create the stories I dreamed of. Over the years, I kept hearing different versions of the adage “If you want to be a writer, you have to write,” and those words would crush me a little every time I heard them because I couldn’t deny that no matter how badly I wanted to be a writer, I wasn’t writing.

In hindsight, it was clearly fear of failure that held me back. Because I wanted to be a writer so bad, I was too terrified to truly try in case someday I was forced to the realization that I couldn’t do it. That I was just never going to be good enough.

But still, throughout that period of low confidence and zero discipline, the ideas kept forming. More characters crowded my consciousness, more plots took shape, and the need to write only grew. Finally, I decided enough was enough. It was time for me to make a decision regarding the dream I had been harboring for so long. Either I “make” time to write, or I stop dreaming of becoming a writer.

As any writer will likely attest, there wasn’t much of a choice to make.

I quickly came to understand that I am most connected to the pure form of my ideas in the time immediately after I first wake up in the morning. My mind is not yet filled with the clutter that will inevitably gather throughout the day and is still pleasantly coated with the hazy residue of the sleeping subconscious.

So now (and for the last five years or so) I make time to write almost every morning. I roll out of bed sometime between 5 and 5:30am, which gives me at least a couple hours before I have to be to work at 8. I grab a cup of coffee and sit down in front my computer, optimistic that something productive will happen and determined not to let doubts crowd me off my path.

That is not to say that some mornings I don’t get distracted from my purpose. Some days my kids wake up early and their dad wakes up late. It’s never easy to give their warm little bodies hugs then shoo them out the door and sometimes I fall victim to their request that this morning mommy make their breakfast. Also, this year I am the conference chairperson for our local chapter of RWA, and some mornings I must set writing time aside to keep up with the many tasks required to coordinate such an important event.

On the days that I don’t get the opportunity to add pages to my WIP, it is now due to a conscious decision regarding priorities and not due to fearful avoidance. I have learned what it means to make time to write and this lesson has meant the world to me.

It is the key to the difference between dreaming of a future as an author and CREATING it.