Flashback: Excuses, Excuses, Excuses (or How do you find time to write?)

When you see “Flashback” in front of an article, it means it is an article that originally appeared on Word Museum in the beginning before it was sold and then regained by Lori. We have reposted these articles, because we feel they add great value to the site. Where possible we include the date of the original article.

Written By: Pamela S. Thibodeaux
Date: 11/15/2001

Article

We’ve heard them all, used a few. There aren’t enough hours in the day…I don’t have time to write…I have a job and a husband and children and…etc., etc., etc. Well, my answer is this: you can’t find time to write, you have to make time to write. My day usually starts out around 3:30 a.m. I read my Bible, exercise (no, not as disciplined as I should be in this area) then, if I have time, turn on the computer. If not, I get ready and go to work. Now that I’m working part time, it’s easier, but until last year, I worked full-time. And now, with the added duty of promoting my published work, I really have to make time to write!

My afternoons and evenings are the best for writing. That way I don’t have to “turn it off” and go to work (kind of hard to switch from right brain to left brain or what ever). I usually cook something for supper (or dinner – whichever you choose to call it) that doesn’t require a lot of watching…you know, rice and gravy type meals, just put it tocooking (or throw it in the oven or crock pot) and check every 10 min or so! After supper and dishes, it’s right back to work until around 8 or 9 o’clock p.m. Sometimes later. Unless hubby insists that I watch something with him – thankfully that’s not too often or makes me a better offer. 🙂

Another time-saving tip is to wash your dishes while you cook. You know, wash up the breakfast dishes and cooking utensils while supper cooks instead of letting them all pile up until after supper. Oh, and how about throwing on that load of laundry now while supper is cooking instead of letting it pile up until you have to spend hours or a whole day catching it up. Wash items that don’t need hanging or ironing (does anyone iron anymore?) After all, you can write while waiting for the washer or dryer to go off and you can always fold them later! (like tomorrow while you’re cooking supper or watching that favorite TV show or helping the children with their homework) Evaluate your day and see when you can squeeze in time to write. Do you watch TV? Listen to the radio? Exercise? We all need recreation but can you set some of that time aside to write or combine that with writing? Can you exercise for 30 min 6 days instead of 1-2 hrs 3 days or carry a tape recorder while walking?

What about writing during the commercials? Some people can’t focus on two things at a time, but you would be amazed at how easy it becomes once you get used to it. I can read an entire book while watching a movie on TV and not lose track of either! I usually only watch 3 hours of TV a week (Touched by an Angel-Sunday, 7th Heaven-Monday and Gilmore Girls-Thursday). On these days, I allow myself the privilege of taking a break. The other evenings and during re-runs I’m either writing, revising, editing or reading – for research of course. Have small children? How about their nap time or play time, can you squeeze in a sentence or two or a scene or a chapter? Can you afford a babysitter or day care 1 or 2 days a week? How about swapping babysitting with another stay-home mom a couple of days a week?

Have older children that can do the dishes or the laundry or help clean the house so that you will have time to write? Have a spouse or other family members that would enjoy taking the children out for pizza or a movie one or two evenings a week so you can write? Have children, husband, and a job? Carry around a notepad and pencil, (or one of those new-fangled word processors that are designed to save up to 100 pages of text and work with your computer, fit in a large purse, are sturdy enough for children to play with and run on AA batteries) that way you can jot down thoughts, ideas or a scene that’s giving you trouble. You never know when time will present you with a few moments…waiting in line at the bank or the grocery store, waiting at a doctor or dentist office, waiting at the car wash or mechanic for your car to be ready, or at a ball game waiting for your child to come up to bat or dance or perform with the band.

What about your lunch hour? I mean, do we really need an hour to eat? Can you combine other activities that will allow you time to write like; grocery shopping or getting your oil changed or hair cut on during your lunch hour? How about noon-time exercise followed by yogurt and fruit instead of that huge sit-down lunch? Think about it, a slimmer waist line (or hips) and a finished chapter or two! Have two jobs? Work shift work or grave yards? Can you write during slow times at work or during your 15 min. and/or lunch breaks? Go to church 2 or 3 times a week? Will your relationship with God really suffer if you spend some of that time writing? After all, writing is a talent, a gift from Him don’t you think He wants you to develop that talent and use that gift? Now don’t go getting all judgmental, it’s just a suggestion. 🙂

There are numerous opportunities to write, we just have to know what they are. For years (11 to be exact) I wrote in 5-subject notebooks. I always had a notebook handy. I even used a cassette recorder to record ideas while driving. Please be careful with this, it can be dangerous too. Kind of like the cell phone thing. Added bonus; people think you’re important when they pass you on the road and you’re talking into a tape recorder. 🙂 Writing doesn’t always mean sitting in front of the computer and pounding away on the keys. Writing is a state of mind. Even when I’m working, some part of my brain is writing. That too can be dangerous since I am a bookkeeper. 🙂

One of the best things a busy wife, mother, employee, writer, etc., etc. can invest in is a lesson on time management. Actually, you may not need to read a book or take a course. Just sit down and examine your day. Evaluate how you spend your time, where you can shave off a few minutes (or couple of hours) and use that time to write. Budget your time just like you budget your money. Be sure and allow for unexpected emergencies that will rob you of writing time…then again, that unexpected emergency my allow you time to write (while you wait of course) if you keep that notebook handy! A lot of people have been helped tremendously by the Book-in-a-week challenge. One writer even told how she (I think it was a she) picked out the week, cooked enough meals in advance and made arrangements with family members to help out. This can be done whether or not you participate in the BIAW challenge! Imagine, a whole week where you’ve prepared everything else in your life so that you can spend quality time writing. If not a whole week, how about one evening a week? Or one hour an evening? We make a point to spend quality time with our spouse and/or children or other family members, why not writing? People put a lot of store in exercising…and we should. But I’ve read that frequent 10 min walks are just as beneficial physically as longer walks two or three times a week. In the same sense, frequent 10 minute writing sprees can be just as beneficial as longer blocks of time two or three days a week.

I guess my point is, make the time. You may or may not have set times to write or set writing goals. I don’t always. But, I try. It takes discipline, dedication and hard work. I’m sure you exhibit these attributes in other areas of your life, why not in your writing? So c’mon, quit making excuses (or using the same old, tired, worn-out ones) and start writing!

Lori Soard started Word Museum in 1997. She’s a published author and has written thousands of articles over the years for newspapers, magazines and online. She has a PhD in Journalism and lives in Southern Indiana with her husband. They have two grown daughters, both animal lovers their house is always filled with pets.

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