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Finding Time to Write

For the first post of the New Year, with everyone eager to set New Year's resolutions they'll keep, I wanted to chime in on something I hear all too much of. I love seeing people who enjoy writing use that talent just because it feels good. For them and for me. I know far too many people who write because the act of doing so makes them happy, but they don't do enough of it (or let it fall by the wayside entirely) and they're plagued by a hundred different excuses.

If writing makes you happy, you should be writing. Period. And if your writing is good, there's no reason you shouldn't be publishing.

But the biggest stumbling block for people always seems to be, "I don't have time to write."

I'll let you in on a secret: Me neither. I make time.

I wrote and published well over 250,000 words in 2012.

In 2012, I also held a full time job. I had freelance work on top of that. On top of that, I have a family that demands attention. Dates, play dates with the kids, school functions, and on and on and on. I've got a gig hosting a pub quiz every week, and that needs to be written as well. I'm as busy or busier than you or anyone you know. And none of that is going to give in 2013. In fact, I'm going to beat this year's record and publish even more next year.

You're not too busy to write, you're simply not prioritizing it.

Repeat that in your head, because you know it's true: YOU ARE NOT TOO BUSY TO WRITE.

Hell, maybe you should put that on a post it note in plain sight. Write it in your notebook, or wherever else you'll read it. Because it's true. You're not too busy to write.

You want to know how I get so much written? I make sure I write something every day. Seven days a week. Whether it's a review for Big Shiny Robot!, my column for StarWars.Com, my column in City Weekly, or on a novel or a short story, I make sure I'm getting something written. I don't even count the writing I do in this space, or many other spaces. You should see my writing journal, too. I fill a moleskin every couple of months full of ideas and I don't count those words, either. And emails...  Sweet Jesus, if I counted my emails, my annual word count would be in the millions...

To help me get the time I need, I get up early. Very early. Before everyone else is awake. Usually, I hit my favorite coffee shop from 6:00 am to 8:00 am, Monday through Friday. That gives me two solid hours, five days a week, to get some productive writing and editing done. At that early in the morning, no one is emailing me or calling me. The family is asleep, so they don't need anything. Then I head in to work. It's a perfect plan that fits my schedule and gives me regularity and discipline in my writing.

But that's not the only thing I've done to save time for writing.

I read once that Brian K. Vaughn said that Video Games were just another name for writer's block. So I cut video games out of my days and that saved loads of time. Occasionally, perhaps once a year or two, I'll cheat, but the only time I really allow myself a video game is when my kids want to play games with me and I count that as family time.

I've also made some changes to my smart phone. It doesn't ring. It doesn't vibrate. It doesn't buzz. It doesn't check for new emails unless I do it manually. That's not to say I'm difficult to get ahold of, but my writing isn't going to be interrupted by a ringing phone. My writing is more important than anyone needing to get ahold of me instantly by phone. And if anyone knows me well, they know they'll get a speedier, almost instantaneous response, in other ways. Try tweeting me. Or an email. Or all of the above. I'll almost certainly see it sooner than I'll look at my phone unless I'm actively using it.

The other thing I do that seems surprising to most people is to have too many projects going on. There's never a chance of getting writer's block if I have two stories due for publication, my novel that needs work, the serial I'm starting up, and any other number of things that need to be done. Every now and again it can feel overwhelming, but the joy and satisfaction of crossing a story or assignment off the list is easily outweighed by that mild sense of drowning.

There's also another sort of person, who has the time to write, but chooses not to out of fear of rejection or fear that they're not good enough or any of a hundred other excuses they give themselves to stop before they start. Ignore those nagging voices that tell you you can't, because you can. It doesn't have to be perfect the first time out, just make the time, sit down, and let the words flow. Eventually they'll be publishable. I promise.

More than anything, though, what it comes down to is this: Write more and do other stuff less.

You can do it. I know you can. If you say you can't, you're lying.

Be sure to check out Part 1Part 2, Part 3Part 4, Part 5,  Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9, and Part 10 of my series of "writer's rules." If you want to check out the whole list, you can find it here. 

And while you're thinking about it, feel free to order a signed book from me, or check out my collection of work that's available digitally.
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