If you’re anything like me, then you’re constantly running around with a long list of things to do.
Right smack dab in the middle of that list is:
“Write that thing you’ve been meaning to write.”
Whether it’s a novel, blog post, script, or poem, we all have that one project that’s collecting dust. But the fact of the matter is, we simply don’t have the time.
Well, the moment is now! It’s time to make time.
I know. It sounds unbelievable. Especially coming from me, who chose live tweeting the latest episode of Law & Order: SVU over writing this when I was supposed to. But believe it or not, I still find ways to take time out of my busy schedule, sit down, and get some writing done.
How, you ask? Bear with me, because my process is strange.
It all started at 11:53 on a random Tuesday night…
As many of us busy folks do, I was lying in bed, trying to sleep, while also thinking of all the things I had to do the next day. That’s when the thought popped into my head; the “you really need to stop slacking off and write something” thought.
That self-deprecating thought sent me into a spiral of my own writing ideas that I had yet to act upon, with one in particular. So what did I do? I zoned in on that idea, unplugged my phone from the charger, and hastily typed out a few bullet points into my note-taking app before drifting off to sleep.
Believe it or not, that was step one. Typing a few ideas into my phone at midnight was the beginning of my writing journey. And it cleared my brain enough to finally fall asleep.
It may sound dorky, but I woke up the next morning excited about those ideas that I had sloppily entered into my phone. I wanted to write right away. Unfortunately, there was the problem of my agenda.
To be honest, it took a few days to finally act upon those ideas and write something, and when I did, I only wrote for five minutes. By the end of the weekend, with less than an hour of writing under my belt, I had about a page.
That’s right, just a page. I didn’t put too much pressure on myself to write the entire thing. I started small, set measurable expectations, wrote when I could, and kept it fresh and exciting. I let the writing flow naturally, and it worked out better than I could have hoped.
If you take the “go big or go home” mentality, chances are you’ll never get anything done.
Start with a few bullet points on your phone, or in your notebook. Heck, even write ideas down on the nearest napkin! Start at a coffee shop, in class, or in the middle of the night.
Make yourself write for five minutes every evening, just five minutes, and go from there. I found that after I started writing, it was hard to stop.
Furthermore, don’t overwhelm yourself or pressure yourself into writing a novel in a month if that’s not the kind of person you are. Some people can do it, but a lot of us just aren’t that disciplined.
Don’t beat yourself up over it. Take baby steps, and you’ll find that the writing process is a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable.
As I said above, you need to take baby steps. Once you’ve started, it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you can finish a book within the month. You might (MIGHT!) finish a very rough first draft, but it probably wouldn’t be ready to publish just yet. However, it’s very important that you don’t give in to the temptation to do too much.
You must set reasonable expectations for yourself, especially if you’re just starting out, or else you might end up biting off more than you can chew.
There are all different types of goals you can set for yourself. You can choose to write for fifteen minutes a day, or to write until you hit 250 words.
If you’re writing a poem, plan to churn out a rough draft one day and rewrite it the next. Write one chapter of your novel, or just one scene. The options are endless!
One of the hardest aspects of finding the time to write is actually finding the time to write. Most of us have a pretty tight schedule from day to day; we have a routine that we don’t like to stray from.
Creating a new routine is going to require a lot of self-discipline. Think of it like you’re going to the gym, except writing is like going to a brain gym.
Try to write when you have a bit of downtime, like in the evening or on weekends. Stay up a little later or wake up a little earlier. Maybe don’t watch that rerun of Seinfeld. Write a little instead.
Alternatively, find your most creative hour and set aside that time to be creative! I’m at my most creative around 11 pm (which is when I’m writing this), so most of my writing I do at night. Elisa, our lovely boss at Craft Your Content, likes to write in the afternoon. I could never do that, but it works for her. Find what works for you and stick with it.
If you didn’t pick up on the most important part of my story, it’s this: I was excited about my idea. If you think about writing something and you feel a sense of dread, that’s a pretty clear sign that you shouldn’t do it.
If you’re planning on writing a book, you better be sure it’s what you’re passionate about, because you’re gonna be with that baby for a while.
This is true for any kind of writing. You don’t just write something and hit “publish;” there are edits and revisions and rewrites to do before it’s finally ready. If you aren’t excited about every moment of the process, there’s a good chance you won’t make it there.
It all sounds simple enough, but in the end, it’s completely up to you. You are the one with the idea, you are the one who wants to write, and you are the one who has to make the time.
If I, a girl who once watched over 300 hours of Netflix in 2 months, can get a draft of my screenplay written in a couple weeks, you can write a few thousand words, too.
It’s important to be kind to yourself, but also be firm. Set manageable expectations that you know you’ll be able to accomplish. Set goals and see them through. However, don’t beat yourself up if you just can’t find the time or energy. After all, tomorrow is another day.
Finding the time is going to be your most difficult task; you may have to give up some things you love doing, or change your routine. I promise, it’s worth it.
Above all, get excited! You are about to embark on the amazing adventure that is writing. It’s a task not many are able to do. Though it may feel daunting, isn’t that true of every new experience?
I truly believe that with a little passion and self-discipline, you’ll be done in no time.
Erika Rasso graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.A. in English and marketing and is currently working on her MFA in Screenwriting at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has worked as a writing consultant, an editor for a literary journal, and an editor for an academic journal. In her free time, Erika enjoys writing short stories and screenplays (though mostly she just watches WAY too many shows on Netflix). She is the Director of Production for Craft Your Content.