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For Aspiring Writers

Finding time to write

By Rachel Ann Nunes

A big misconception people have is that you have to have a lot of free time to write. Ha! What it takes is weeding out the unnecessary stuff in your life so you can make time for writing. I know many talented people, both men and women, who say they long to write but do not (not even a little) because of family or work concerns. They think that someday they'll have time, someday they'll get it done. The truth is that your kids'll grow up, but you'll still be busy. Your deadlines at work aren't suddenly going to change. If you want to write, YOU MUST WRITE—even if only a few minutes a day. Children can learn to respect your few hours at the computer, especially if they know you're there for them if they really need you. Or if you're employed outside the home, maybe you can get up earlier in the morning to write before you go to work. The rewards will far outweigh the loss of sleep.

I think a lot of reluctance people have is the fear of failure. I know that for me, it was very frightening to stare at that first blank computer screen and realize that now I had no excuses. I would fail or succeed. Remember that if you don't try, you've already failed. And make it a good try, not some half-hearted wimpy thing. If you don't give up, you will make it.

Try these time saving tips:
  1. Don't waste time doing things that others can do for themselves.
    1. Grocery shopping. Your spouse might be able to get it done a lot quicker on the way home from work.
    2. Ironing. Send it out, let your spouse do it, or wear it wrinkled.
    3. Children should learn to clean up after themselves.

  2. Put your priorities in line.
    1. Who cares if the floor needs to be mopped or your oil changed? Get your writing done first when you are fresh and then do the things that don't take much thought or inspiration.
    2. Dinners can be quick and nutritious.
    3. The bottom line is what you care most about will get taken care of. So ask yourself, what do you care about most?

  3. Don't waste time doing things NO ONE should do. For example, wasting time on the Internet, e-mail, or especially watching TV. The average person spends seven entire years of their life watching TV. Can you believe that? Think of everything you could do in seven years! Incredible. Successful people rarely waste time watching TV.

  4. Let things go that don't really matter. For instance, I've decided that it is okay for my small children to dress themselves in mismatched clothes while they're in the house. As long as they are clean and we're not going anywhere, what does it matter? And I no longer worry about things I can't change. It's not worth my time.

  5. Wear modest pajamas when you are writing. This way, you don't need to interrupt your writing time to get dressed if someone pops in or if you have to make a quick errand. And women carry an extra set of makeup in your purse.

  6. Learn to say no when it infringes upon your writing time.

  7. Tell people you are writing so they will let you write. This also gives you more incentive to actually write.

  8. Tell people about your deadline—even if it's a personal deadline. You must respect your time so that others will also.

  9. Don't answer your phone or check your e-mail while you're writing. Don't waste writing time cleaning your screen or doing anything but writing.

  10. Set a word count goal for first drafts and page goals for rewriting. Then stick to it. These goals must be realistic yet also inspiring. Spencer W. Kimball once said, "A goal never written is only a wish." So even if your goal is later adjusted, set a goal. I use a goal sheet for each book, on which I have daily, weekly, and entire book goals clearly stated, as well as space to write what I actually accomplish.

  11. Don't ever give up.

  12. Never write on Sundays. Never.

  13. Pray. Tell your Father what your goals are and ask him to help you reach them.

Oh, a few more comments. I do take Fridays off if I've already reached my weekly goal. If I didn't, I DON'T force myself make up for it the next week. I do keep it in mind and try to write accordingly, though, because I still have my overall book goal to shoot for. "Write accordingly" means maybe a hundred or so extra words for the next few weeks. Or maybe I need to readjust my end goal slightly.

In the summer I often have much lower goals so that I can spend more time at the pool or the park with my children. I don't grow a garden except for a few tomatoes bushes (my husband plants other things which I don't take care of), and yes, my flowerbeds are pitifully bare. And lastly, it took me two years to buy curtains for our front room (we call it the piano room), but since I've never gotten around to buying a couch or chairs for the room either, we never really cared.

See, it's all a matter of priorities. If it doesn't say Mommy and it's not a deadline, it can probably wait.

Now it's your turn to make some commitments.

What I will do to find time to write:

1.________________________________________________________________________

2.________________________________________________________________________

3.________________________________________________________________________

4.________________________________________________________________________

I'm going to write:

1.________________________________________________________________________

2.________________________________________________________________________

My daily goal is _________________________. (See also goal sheet below.)

Additional challenges I face in finding time to write and how I'm going to overcome these:

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

Daily Goal Sheet (Put name of novel here)

Weekly Goal Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday