Lessons Learned | Writing

The “I Don’t Have Time to Write” Problem and How to Fix It

September 2, 2013

As a writing coach, I ask my clients four questions before we work together:

1. Why do you want to write?
2. What do you want to write?
3. What’s getting in your way?
4. Can you commit to writing 15 minutes a day?

Each question helps me understand where the writer is in his or her process but it’s question number three, and the answer to that question, that often tells me the biggest story: “I have no time to write.”

And my response is: then you don’t want it bad enough.

We All Have 24 Hours a Day

There are people who have full-time jobs, families, and other responsibilities but they can seem to get tons done. In fact, they are like writing machines cranking out book after book. Then there are people who have been working on their one book for ten years. But guess what? They all have the same 24 hours that you and I have a day.

It’s All About Choices

If you want to write and publish your book badly enough, you will do what it takes to get it done. That may mean writing late at night, writing for 10 minutes in between breaks at work, writing whenever you get the kids off to school, or whatever. Do you know how I know this? Because of people like Jodi Picoult. Check out this interview she did with Ellen Degeneres (Start watching at 1:35 and go until 2:01 to see what I’m talking about). I also know this from experience. I am an entrepreneur, have two kids, and tons of responsibilities but I just published my second book.

You Can’t Do Everything

The weird irony is you’ve got to realize that you can’t do everything. Some things are going to suffer while you’re writing. But who cares if there are piles of laundry that need to be folded? As long as everyone has clean clothes, let it go. So what if the dishes sit in the sink. You can do it later. You can’t do everything but if writing and finishing this book is important then decide what can wait while you write.

“Writing a Book” Can Feel Overwhelming

This is when I ask my clients if they can clear 15 minutes a day to write. When you break it down, it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. But the hard truth is you’ve got to write as much as possible to get it done. Chip away at it little by little. Don’t give up and don’t stop until you are done no matter how long it takes because soon you will have amassed your first draft.

MAKE Time to Write

You do have to make time, even if it is 15 minutes a day. You have to see it like brushing your teeth, exercising, or eating. When you make time something funny happens, you actually HAVE time to write. Here’s another thing I tell my clients: if you’ve got a book in you that needs to come out, it’s not going to be
 easy. It will require perseverance, commitment, and discipline to get 
it done. But the secret sauce is this (a quote I heard somewhere, and I’ve said this before):

Click to Tweet this: “If you want to be a writer, then the desire to write has be more than the pain of not doing it.” (via @DanaLeipold)

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  1. “This is I ask my clients if they can clear 15 minutes a day to write.
    When you break it down, it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. But the hard
    truth is you’ve got to write as much as possible to get it done. Chip
    away at it little by little. Don’t give up and don’t stop until you are
    done no matter how long it takes because soon you will have amassed your
    first draft.”

    Yanno – you’re right. I needed to hear that today.

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