I pop my head off the pillow in the morning and set my resolve: today I'm going to write! 15 hours later I collapse back into bed only to think oh yeah--I was supposed to write today. Cue guilt and shame spiral and end scene with me falling asleep with a firm plan that tomorrow will be different.
Repeat that about 300 times and you'll know what a year in the life of a writer looks like--at least a year in the life of any writer who has any other responsibilities including spouses, children, friends, family, bills that must be paid, or even so much as highly-demanding goldfish.
I know I'm not alone in this because I've talked with hundreds of writers who feel exactly the same way. We have great intentions, but there is
never enough time.
Today I want to share with you why admitting that you don't have enough time to write might actually be just the thing you need to do so you can find time to write.
(I know, isn't that a weird thing to say?)
Here's why. The other day I was looking at my gas tank and I realized it was on empty. It was a terribly inconvenient time to run out of gas--I was far from all my usual gas stations, in an area I didn't know, trying to make it home before my daughter (or myself) got out-of-control hangry.
I caught myself thinking It's not that low on gas. I'll just get it later.
As if by choosing to ignore the problem I could make it go away.
As if by pretending I did have enough gas, I'd be able to make it home on fumes and rainbows.
I was staring reality straight in the face (I was about two miles from having to pull over because my car wouldn't drive anymore, yet I was still about ten miles from home) and pretending that the opposite was true (cars don't really need gas--not if it's terribly inconvenient for me to stop and fill up).
Don't we do this all the time as writers. We say we don't have enough time to write, but then we try to squeeze it in anyway. Like trying to put too much play doh in a container, we squish down one side only to have to overflow out of the other. We squeeze the lid on and it comes oozing out the side.
Maybe writing doesn't fit into our lives because it actually doesn't fit into our lives.
Maybe no matter how hard we try to jam it in, it just. won't. fit.
Maybe it's time to accept that time is a finite resource. Much like gas, if we are out of time, we are just out. Plain and simple. We can't grow more time, we can't wish for more, we can't write our novel while pushing a shopping cart around the grocery store.
Take a deep breath and let that soak in: You are absolutely right. You don't have time to write. You aren't crazy, you aren't lazy, you just don't have room in your life.
I know right now you might be thinking gloomily, She's right. I guess my writing dreams just don't fit into my current reality. I'll have to wait until I'm retired and all my kids have moved out. I hope I live that long.
Slow down, storyteller. I've just shown you the way to complete freedom. Stop being Eeyore--I just gave you a key to the pantry where all the honey pots are stored.
If you accept that time is finite, then you can get serious about where your finite resources are going. You can look long and hard at your bank (er, time?) statement and follow the time-trail.
Then you can make some decisions.
Maybe you will decide that you can't write this month. Or this year. But maybe, you will decide that you can rearrange your resources to allow for little pockets of pure, undivided time that you can devote to dream-chasing and word-slinging.
Take deep breath and look at the 24 hours you hold in your hand. 24 glorious hours you can do whatever you want with; 363 miles worth of gas in the tank and you can go anywhere. You have the same amount of hours in your day that Anne Lamott, Jen Hatmaker, Shauna Niequist, J.K. Rowling and Natalie Goldberg have.
It's up to you how you spend it.
Want more ideas about how to set up a writing practice that actually works for you? Become an Inkling and get my FREE Creating Your Writing Practice Worksheet.