We say the words, make time. We can’t make time. I try in my Future Girls books to make time, to travel back and forth changing up everything. It’s fun in fiction, not as easy in real life – so to speak.
In a conversation with Beth Barany, she asked, how do I make time for my writing.
And I had the epiphany that I don’t make time at all.
But I do protect it.
I do schedule part of the day for writing, for being creative.
And that’s the making of time I suppose. I make time for writing. But make is not the word, protect is the word. Because we live in a time of terrible distractions and irresistible time vampires who either sneak around at night and suck the life out of us, or glitter seductively and lure us away from our day work.
You must string together the garlic, make a circle and declare, this is when I write.
Don’t think about writing. Don’t exhaust yourself with recriminations and plans and guilt. Write.
Sure you say, but how?
To create our podcast, we have a set time to record. We have a date. i will be there because Damien will be there. He will be there because I’m there. And we both must show up because we’ve booked a guest.
A mutual system of accountability.
Can you find a friend who will help you show up to write, because that can work well. Or you can be your own friend.
Here’s what to do.
Schedule the time to write. Block it out on the calendar. Do it early in the morning, or late at night – that part doesn’t matter as long as you’ve scheduled it and protected it. Be firm with yourself and all your imaginary flying monkeys who seem to be obsessed with perfectly executed laundry and clean base boards. Put the phone in another room, if it’s important, the caller will leave a message, ditto the text.
Now you have this time to work
And of course you won’t be able to write a thing. I already knew that even if you didn’t.
Nor would I bring it up if I didn’t have a solution. To get over that scary blank page, re-frame what you are doing. Instead of staring at that big, blank glowing computer screen (and thinking, hey, I need a better screen photo for the background, where did I store that great sunset photo I took on our last vacation? It should be in this iPhoto album . . .)
Instead of thinking big thoughts like, today I am writing THE BOOK.
Think today I am:
- organizing material
- sketching memories
- recording impressions
- jotting down the draft to that popular story I always tell my friends or audience
- Outlining four rough chapter ideas
- just going to fill in some character backgrounds
Re-framing the activity can trick your brain – that monkey mind, into thinking you aren’t really doing anything amazing at all, just working a bit here, just jotting down some ideas. Nothing to see here, move along.
Eric Maisel, in his book, Make Meaning, “Construct and integrate into your belief system the adaptive illusion that your work is valuable. Reinvest meaning in your art-making and your vocation as an artist. Make challenges out of problems. Recast your beliefs so that your work looks more inviting to tackle.”
Move around your time and protect what is important – and acknowledge that this time and creativity is important. It’s important enough to have a place on the calendar and a place in your day. Only you can assign meaning to your own work. And oddly, once you take yourself and your work seriously, so will others.
This first appeared in Writers Fun Zone