My friend Susan Guyette asks: How do you create your time to write?

Susan, I cannot tell you how pleased I am that you did not ask, “How do you find the time to write?” No one finds the time to write. Writers hunt down writing time. We stab it, drag it back in by the knife handle and feast, jealously guarding our bloody, juicy morsels.

I create time for my writing by acknowledging that I am a writer. Writers write. You will know if you, too, are a writer, by not writing. Try a day and a half. If you can go a day and a half without developing a mad itch, you may not be a writer.

OK, maybe three days.

The other way to make sure I create time to write is to work on something I am passionate about. Then, try to stop me.

When I first started my as-of-yet unpublished novel—a girl and her backpack in Southeast Asia—I had no real outside distractions. I was single and childless. My job existed to feed my writing habit. Leaving work on Fridays, I would write all night. As the birds began chirping on Saturday mornings, I would lower the shades and flop into bed, a deeply satisfied stereotype. I’d see friends on Saturday nights and spend Sundays doing that which was necessary to show up clothed for work on Monday morning. I would think about my novel all week, living for the moment when I could unplug the phone and plunge back in. Never once in the four years it took me to assemble a first draft did I have block. 

Eventually, I met the adorable fellow whom I eventually married, I switched my writing binge to Sundays. He watched sports, I wrote. We met for dinner, where  I talked about nothing but my work. The man is a saint, a saint.

When we had our first child, I didn’t write for six months. After that, see above: go nuts if you don’t.  With alarming irregularity, I squeezed in a few hours, a couple times a week. My focus, however, had shifted. With the addition of our second child, I sensed I would be more like a year. It was longer. These days, my commitment is as least fifteen minutes a day, first thing in the morning, at least three days a week. I generally hit about a half-hour, four times a week.

For excellent ideas on tracking down and knifing your own writing schedule, please visit this outstanding and free website. Write Habit is run by Angela Jane Fountas, currently the writer-in-residence at Richard Hugo House.


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