“I don’t have time to write.”
If you have ever uttered that phrase I want you to make a fist and punch yourself in the temple as hard as you can. Why? Well, maybe the pain of that headache will make you stop lying to yourself. That is what you did when you said that. You lied to yourself.
The day is twenty-four hours long. That should come as a surprise to no one in this day and age, but I felt it should be mentioned since so many people seem to think there is less time now than there was in the past. As if someone has been stealing hours in these last few years. The simple truth is you are wasting years of your life doing things that are useless, mindless, and unproductive “pastimes” towards reaching the goals you have.
Between 1589 to 1613 writer William Shakespeare wrote his complete works. Twenty-four years. Thirty-seven plays, with a total word count of 835,997.
I can hear you. “Well, hell MST, give me 24 years and I can manage to write more than that!”
Well, Bill Shakespeare was also a husband, a father, and a grandfather. He worked in London but lived in Stratford, and he owned and managed properties in both. He was an actor, a playwright, and was a partner in a leading actor company. His life also had all the wonders, burdens, uncertainties and tragedies of anyone’s life. He buried an 11-year-old son in 1596. He married off two daughters. Also, remember this was the time of travel by horse and buggies. Hundred mile trips, back and forth in carriages. Weeks, months even away from his family.
Yet he wrote all of that. He had an incredibly busy life but he found the time.
Well, the why is easy, it was what kept the family he loved feed, clothed, and housed in a respectable way. But there had to have been that love of writing, love of the craft, or he would have simply followed his father’s occupation, been the town of Stratford’s bailiff (mayor) and have lived a simpler life. How terribly bereft the world would be if he had followed that path.
Now that is a tough one since no real data on that remains. But I can easily image him sitting at a table with his family around him, working even when he was home. Children, who had not seen their father for weeks or months, calling out to him. Asking him to come look at something, each and every child hoping for their father’s approval of their juvenile efforts. Words flowing not onto a self-correcting, linked to the internet to help research computer, but out of a feather quill. Ink drop by ink drop. Words were written by oil lamp, by candlelight, when children were abed. Words were written when his eyes burned for lack of light and sleep.
He had to find the time.
Four hundred years later, nothing has changed for the life of a writer except that life is still life and the tools of the craft are better. You–humble unknown writer–have advantages that many of the greatest writers, people whose words are required reading, would have begged to have. Would have been seen as magical tools, given by angels on high to help them with the struggles they had.
“You don’t have time to write?”
Turn off your TV. And I don’t mean for a little bit, for a night, for a few days. I mean forever. Turn that damn idiot box off. How much time are you really spending “watching it” anymore, anyway? Most people seem to be on the computer nowadays. TVs are now simply there for background noise. Turn it off.
Video games? Hours of digital fun trying to get your little group of hero pixels to the top of another group of mountain pixels, where you will try for the tenth time to defeat the big boss group of pixels. Or are you chasing Pokémon around a park? Tossing wrathful birds at omelet making pigs? Digging a mine with a pickaxe you crafted? Or maybe you’re addicted to Facebook games. Crushing candy?
Cocks an eyebrow. “You don’t have time to write?”
Scrapbooking? Rolls up a roll of craft paper and threatens to spank you.
Hobbies are great and wonderful things. For years mine was writing, but that was simply the top of the list. I would love to have back the time I spent playing World of Warcraft. A good year of my life was lost trying to get a dozen characters across the world of Azeroth. And how many other such games did I play? Oh, god that’s a horrible number. Weeks, and weeks, and weeks of my life are gone. I had fun at the time, but looking back on that from a person staying up till midnight to find time to write I want that time back.
The simple truth, you do have the time to write. You do. You simply have got to reap it from the wasted time in your life, life wheat from the chaff. Steal those moments, become the thief, rather than letting time rob from you. Also, this isn’t Harry Potter; no one is going to give you a Time Turner so that you can get your work done. Make the time, find the time, steal the time.
Sitting at a doctor’s office, write. Waiting at the DMV, you, poor person, you have hours to write. And it doesn’t always have to be putting words to paper. Reading a book, if you read it as an author–looking for how the author crafted the story, is also writing. Hell, even those magazine articles at the doctor’s office is writing if you try to understand how it was crafted. Minimal word count, maximum information. How wonderful is that for your writing?
Don’t force your writing, but don’t you dare blame lack of time. You’re better than that. You’re a writer, remember? If you’re not able to write, it’s because blue butt space monkeys that live on the backside of the moon and drive yellow cheese cars, stole your computer to help them get home.
If you going to lie, make it original.