I used to work at a Borders Bookstore. It was my first job after graduating college with an English degree, and I thought it was the perfect job to pay the bills while I finished writing what I thought was going to be my bestselling, breakout novel. (The novel that I’m still editing.) And not surprisingly, there were several people who worked there who were also aspiring authors.
One day when I was still pretty new, I was talking to another one of the new hires, and she told me that she would love to write a novel. The only issue she had was that she never seemed to find enough time to sit down and actually do it. She explained that she couldn’t just sit down for thirty minutes to an hour, it needed to be several hours in order to get anything done. And having several free hours in a day wasn’t realistic, so therefore she never really got started on the story she wanted to tell.
And I completely knew what she meant – I felt like in order to accomplish anything, it was an ordeal that couldn’t be completed in a mere forty-five minutes. I had to gather my writing materials, review any previous notes that I had made, have at least two cups of coffee, and be in a space that “inspired” me, like a coffeehouse or by a window on a sunny day. We were in total agreement that even though we only worked thirty-five hours a week or so, and were pretty young and responsibility free, we just didn’t have the time required for a proper writing session.
It was total bullshit. Looking back now, I want to just shake myself because I wasted so much time. I went through such gaps between writing that every time I attempted to get back to work, I had to stop and reread everything that I had already written, and try to recall what direction I was even trying to take the story in. It was daunting, spending a four hour session getting reacquainted with a story, and then trying to find another gap of time to continue writing it. That’s not a realistic approach to writing, at least not for me.
I’ve since come to realize that there is no perfect time to write. Every week I have this vision of getting up early Saturday morning, eating breakfast, and sitting at the keyboard for the next few hours in a blissfully productive writing session. And every Saturday something comes up – last Saturday it was driving around to the MVD to try and retake my license photo, and then visiting my great-aunt. There’s always going to be something else, something getting in the way of that unblocked time. And that’s not even the daily stuff, like just finding time to cook, clean, workout, or even just spend quality time with your loved ones.
So I’ve had to readjust my expectations for what having time to write looks like. I’ve come to realize that life only gets more busy, and your time shrinks with the more you tend to take on. And I don’t want to fall into the category of people who have had to give up on their dream because they didn’t have time. That’s just too disappointing to me, to not make it because you didn’t even have the time to try.
So I’m seizing those smaller chunks of time, because spending thirty to forty-five minutes a day is going to get me a hell of a lot farther than waiting for uninterrupted time.The other night I got an hour between dinner and when I went to hang out with a friend, and I was able to finish editing a chapter that was giving me some issues. On Friday, I edited another chapter on my lunch break while I quickly stuffed fried rice in my face. I’m keeping the story and ideas fresh in my head, and ultimately I’m making progress – which is the whole point. If I just take any opportunity to write, I’ll get to where I want to be instead of waiting for sunlight and a caffeine fix.