Tonight, I have to go and talk to a local writer’s group about time management for writers. It occurred to me as I printed out my handouts that many writers that I have met—and spoken to on this very topic—return again and again for the same lecture.
It’s not because they weren’t paying attention the first time. It’s because, I think, they are hoping that somewhere amongst my tips about getting up earlier, taking the work with you and having a notebook in every room of the house, they’ll find the secret to why they aren’t writing.
You know what I think? I think it’s not about how much time you have or don’t have. We all have twenty-four hours a day. I spend my twenty-four differently than you do; you spend yours differently from your neighbor. Whether you choose to set aside one minute, one hour or no time at all for your writing is all your choice.
And that, my friends, is, in my opinion, the real problem for many writers. It isn’t about tips and tricks on fitting more into your writing day. It’s about deciding that finishing that book or short story is a PRIORITY to you and then making the time, wherever you can find it.
To do that, you first have to look inside you. Are you afraid to write? Hands down, that’s probably the number-one reason most people come to me, month after month, looking for a magic cure to their “block.” Guess what?
There is no magic cure. There isn’t, in my opinion, such a thing as writer’s block. There’s only you and a piece of paper. Either you choose to fill it or you don’t.
There’s the key—you CHOOSE to fill it. You CHOOSE to ignore your doubts and your fears. Heck, yes, you might get rejected or get a bad review. I don’t sell everything I write, nor does everything I publish sell well. Just because you’re published doesn’t mean the gates of publishing heaven open and everything you write is brushed with gold. You can write something phenomenal and panic because it hits a bestseller list (and how on earth are you going to do that again?) Or write something that struggles and needs major revision. It happens to all of us.
For the record, revision is a GOOD thing. It’s the best thing you can do to teach yourself how to write better. All writers, whether they have been published once or one million times, revise and polish. My first drafts always end up with a lot more red than black on them. I whittle down all the junk, keep just the good words, then revise it again. And again. Until I’m sure it’s as good as it can be.
I also battle the temptation to play Words with Friends instead of work. The parts of me that doubt I can do it again urge me to put the book off, set it aside, ignore it, do something far better with my time (like shop and spend money I haven’t earned yet).
Hmmm…sound familiar? Ask yourself, is it REALLY about finding the time to write or is it about finding the COURAGE to face that page?
You’re reading this because you want some tips, some magic cures. I’ll give you a couple—but remember, the real cure is right inside you already.
Remember when you were a little kid and learning to ride a bike without training wheels? It was a scary time, wasn’t it? You could fall, break your head open (as your mother often told you, though I’ve never seen a head broken open), or worse, you could be the only kid on your block still using training wheels in the eleventh grade.
But you persevered and kept trying and falling, trying and falling. Putting a little time in every day after school because your goal was bigger than the what-ifs. Eventually, the training wheels came off, you were on a “real” bike and the guys from the Tour de France had some competition in the neighborhood.
Take the training wheels off your writing. The time is there; you just have to reach out and grab the handlebars.
Shirley Jump is an award-winning, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Amazon, and USA Today bestselling author who has published more than 80 books in 24 countries. As an editor, she has edited more than 100 books in a variety of genres. She specializes in helping her clients turn the jigsaw puzzle of their idea into a book that not only stands out in a crowded marketplace but is also engaging and unforgettable.
Check out the BUZZ about Shirley Jump’s novels:
“Sweet is the word for this anthology from four top Kensington writers…Jump’s office romance gives the collection a kick, with fiery writing.” — Publishers Weekly
4 1/2 Stars, “With Jump’s trademark comedic touch, readers are treated to a well-crafted story about what it means to come home to face yourself and your past. The main characters are sympathetic and intelligent, and the narrative is constantly smooth and compelling.” — Romantic Times Book Reviews
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