People are often surprised to learn that even full-time writers, such as moi, struggle to find time to write. You’d think that without the demands of a day job doing something else, a writer would be able to devote hours every day to writing. That’s not true. It’s especially not true for the writing that you want or need to do that no one is paying you for (yet). At the same time, to get to the paying work, you have to do a lot of unpaid writing (putting together a book proposal, writing a full manuscript for fiction, coming up with pitch letters and on and on). It’s a challenge, to say the least.
A few years ago, a colleague of mine suggested a simple solution: “Take the first two hours of every day for the writing that’s most important to you, and make the rest fit into the remainder of the day.” The beauty of this solution is that it helps establish a daily habit of writing. It also makes a daily priority of the work that’s most important to you, not the work that happens to have landed in your inbox or that is someone else’s priority.
It took several months for me to routinely give myself permission to use my best writing time this way. But after a while, I learned not to schedule anything else during those precious morning hours. Not interviews for articles I’m working on, not dental appointments, not conference calls to discuss projects in the works. Only the writing that is most important to me. (And, okay, occasionally a gossip session with one of my friends). I frequently leave my home office for these two hours so that phone calls and emails don’t interrupt me (as I mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t bring a laptop with me when I do my writing at the coffee shop).
Three years later, I can say that reserving those morning hours for my most important work has been the greatest gift I’ve ever given myself. If you can’t devote two full hours each day to your most important work, try an hour, or your commute time, or your lunch break. Whatever it is, make it a daily ritual, and keep it sacred.