Time Management Myth or Reality

Inevitably,I am asked how I juggle writing with my other commitments, which are some days innumerable. I hate to admit that I have no magic or even reasonable explanation. I do have a frenzied life, little sleep, high tolerance to caffeine and many regrets. I blogged about my life and juggling earlier this year in When Do I Write? I’ll try to take a fresh approach this time, but its not all super-awesome news. LOL.

As it turns out, despite my many tersely worded letters to Father Time, there really are only 24 hours in a day and according to my doctor, I’m supposed to sleep for at least six of those. Pish-posh. Cest impossible!

Writing is like taking on any other commitment, it requires time, effort and dedication. I think the first question we should ask ourselves is “How much time can I dedicate to this?” another form of this question is “What’s my point?” If the point is to enjoy some quiet time, then the time required will be smaller. If it’s your new hobby, maybe a few hours a week will be perfect. However, if you’re like me and are determined to be a traditionally published author, well, then you are entering the YOU WILL FAIL zone. I entered, chin up about two years ago. I won’t fail, but I have given up a lot in my pursuit, and my family dynamic has shifted. I’ve adjusted my life to accommodate my dream of becoming an author.

I’m sorry to tell you, you will have to do he same thing. Something, somewhere will have to give. You will have to let go of something to make room for writing. I let go of my sleep, and housework, and outings with the kids. Please don’t cry for them, we still do plenty, but it is pared down significantly. We no longer go just to get out. I go now when we really want to, otherwise, we’re home and I write. They’ve lost countless outings to miscellaneous events, but have gained an example of sacrifice and hard work, hopefully leading to the acquisition of a dream one day. Life lessons are priceless.  I also stepped down from ministry commitments at church. The truth is,  I no longer do a myriad of little things.

When you prioritize, you realize what’s important. I learned that writing is important to me, and being on my womens’ ministry team wasn’t.  I can participate without having my hands in the mix. I learned that I’d rather write than spend that hour at the gym (sorry – it’s just true). I learned that I love flavored coffee and can function with 4 hours of sleep if necessary because I love writing.

Writing is my mistress and I make time for her because I really really want to. Like when I was dating my husband, I would go to great lengths to be with him regardless of what other things had to take a side seat. If your life is already full but you want to write, then its time to analyze what you are committed to and why. How important is each activity to you? How much TV do you watch? Can you get up an hour earlier for work? or stay up until midnight instead of turning in at 10? I see agent Jessica Faust from Bookends on Twitter every single morning before 6am before she goes to the gym and then to work, offering an #askagent. She’s dedicated. I love that.

I guess my advice on finding time to write is sort of awful. Its tough to look critically at your life. Everything is important to us or we wouldn’t do it all, but when something new scoots in, something old has to slide. What is it for you? Please share. This is an important topic to all writers. We all make sacrifices. What’s yours?

An important note: This post was prompted thanks to a lovely twitter friend of mine @ronvitale who helped me out when my brain went blank and I needed blog topic. Thank you so much to Ron and all of my Twitterverse!!

7 comments to Time Management Myth or Reality

  • You are a better person than I am. On both accounts…You know what I mean.

    Wish I had your strength of character.

  • I struggle with this, too….you are very motivated, and I admire you for that. Thanks for sharing your tips!

  • Valerie! I just love you so much. You are having one of those writer BLEH’s. You rock all over the place. I promise! and your unruly manuscript is getting the best of you. Mine do that frequently. I say, shake your fist at that ms and start something new. It really will all come together. It’s a labor of love. You Are gifted. Repeat this in the mirror. And as for that better person comment…some would say I’m a creep ;) I have my moments.”Just keep swimming” – Dori

  • Alaina! I am painfully motivated, like a human Tazmanian Devil. Whatever I’m working on I attack with everything until I reach the goal, then I usually go “meh.” This is not always a good thing. LOL. The key is to remember it’s a give and take like everything else. It’s ok to let things slide, even writing.

  • Juggling it all can be challenging, but I know that when I’m serious about prioritizing and getting things done, I can do it. If I allow myself to get sidetracked, forget it!

  • I’m the same – writing is one of my highest priorities and I plan in time for it. I take that into account when I make plans, not the other way around. :)

  • Julie! Life is way too full of bunny trails LOL! It’s hard to focus and nearly impossible to chose between your priorities. I feel defeated as often as I do confident, but at the end of the day, what really mattered was addressed.

    Marieke! Right? If we didn’t make writing a priority, it would always be the thing we’re going to do and never the thing that makes room for itself. Very very good point!

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