Thursday, January 24, 2019

Dear O'Abby: I don't have time to write. Am I a writer?

Dear O'Abby,

I have always written.  Since I was a kid, and old enough to know how to hold a pencil and make it work.  But since finishing college, starting work and the demands of a young family, I just can't seem to find the time to write.  And it's driving me crazy.  I have so many story ideas squirreling around my head, but the most I can do is scribble them down in my notebook and hope they still sound good when - if - I ever have time to sit down in front of my computer and write.

Can I call myself a writer if I don't write anymore?



Dear Time-Challenged,

You are not alone.  I think most writers are in much the same boat.  I know I am!

I think the biggest thing to take on board is to be realistic.  Maybe before you had kids and a job you could knock out 3000 words a day without thinking too much about it.  Maybe you were even one of those people who could write an entire novel in a weekend.

Forget that.

If your time is limited, you need to make the most of what you do have.  Work out when you are at your most creative and see if you can carve out a few minutes at that time of day.  Or if that time doesn't suit, you may need to just force yourself to write at some other time.  Personally, I'm a night-owl naturally, but for many years I worked nights so I wasn't able to write at night.  I trained myself to get up at 5:30am so I could get an hour and a half of writing time in before my kids got up at 7.

And I still do that, even though I don't work nearly as many nights now.  It works for me because my day job is so crazy, I often don't have the energy or creative drive to write in the evening.  If I do, great.  I can do more.  But if I don't, I know I've had that time in the morning.
Maybe you're in a different situation and writing at night, after the kids go to bed, will work better for you.  Or you may be able to steal an hour or so while they're napping in the afternoon.

The point is to write.  I know writers who write on their phones while their kids are in swimming lessons.  Or who scribble in a notebook during their lunch breaks or on their commute.

You don't need a clear two hour block to write.  If you can steal a quarter hour here and a half hour there and use them productively, you will be able to write those stories.  It may take longer than before, but at least you can still call yourself a writer.

Good luck!


1 comment:

Roland Clarke said...

I believe that you should call yourself a writer, Time-Challenged and agree with O'Abby that we all juggle our writing around our life. That changes as our situations change - and they do, or else we are not growing. I'm sixty-five and my writing situation has changed a lot, from an obsessive teenage scribbler to a middle-aged journalist locked into non-fiction deadlines to a retiree struggling to write despite a chronic disease. Whatever we write, we are writers. Good luck.