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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Making the Time

"I'm writing a novel," you say in a totally-not-bragging way to a friend. After all, they asked.

Said friend stares at you a little blankly before replying, "I would love to write a novel, I just don't have the time!"

Time. Despite the full 24-hours available on the clock, there never seems to be enough of it. And writing a well-crafted piece of fiction demands a lot of it.

But having the time to write a novel isn't about clearing your schedule or being super-human. The secret to having enough time to write a novel is making the time.

As I've mentioned before, I'm not one for set writing schedules and putting my nose to the grindstone to write a little everyday. It may work for some, but I don't believe this widely touted, be-all-end-all advice is the only way. I think it's downright impossible and discouraging for many, myself included. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try it -- if it works for you then go for it. But there are other ways to make time.

While a functioning Time Turner wouldn't be remiss, unfortunately there are none left due to a little incident at the Department of Mysteries -- and, of course, because they're not real. Unimportant. The best way to make time is to dig out little pieces of unused time during your day.

I value my downtime, so I'm not saying you need to be productive during your daily boob tube session. I need my nighttime Star Trek and online Scrabble marathons to make my day survivable. So when do I write?

The key is to understand and believe that no unit of time is too small to be valuable. If I have five minutes before a meeting that I'm prepared for, I don't sit there twiddling my thumbs waiting for it to start. I open my document and write a paragraph. I split my lunch break between reading and writing. When I'm commuting home, I'm thinking about my story and planning so that the next time I have five minutes to sit down and write I'm ready to go.

I find larger chunks of time, too. When the mood strikes, I can forgo my daily Star Trek and write for hours. But it's not everyday. My day job isn't writing yet, so I can't sit out my computer for 8 hours and wait for inspiration to strike. So I take the loose change from my day -- a few minutes here and there -- and I make them work for me. Don't worry about whether or not you're moving fast enough or working hard enough. Go at the pace that fits your lifestyle, just be sure that you keep going. If you try to cut out activities you enjoy or else your downtime in order to make time for writing, you are only setting yourself up for failure.

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