5 Ways To Protect Your Writing Time

By Jamie Jensen · May 14, 2014

This is probably the number one excuse I hear from those who aren’t writing as much as they want to:

“I just don’t have the time.” Or…

“I have time but it’s not enough time.” (And, by the way, what is enough time?) Or…

“I need a lot of hours to get inspired or in-the-mood.”

There is this widespread belief that if one doesn’t have the time, or as much time as they’d like – they simply can’t write.

Well, I’m here to tell you: this is bullshit.

This belief is kinda like an epidemic to getting the work done. It’s also a great way to blame “life” for your lack of prolificness (this is totally a word, by the way, I checked). That’s right, silly writer dude. It’s not you. It’s life’s fault.

And then we wonder why writers are so quintessentially angry. Here’s the thing…

We all have time. And we make choices about how to use it. Now, I’m not suggesting that you hermit yourself in a cave whenever you aren’t eating, sleeping, or working. But if you find yourself planning to write and then allowing all of life to “get in the way,” it’s time to examine your relationship with time.

Start by enlisting these 5 methods to protect your writing time ASAP!

1.     Learn to say no. This is a big one. How many of us start the weekend with an intention to get our work done on Sunday between 12pm and 4pm? But then your best friend’s best friend needs a last minute date to this Christening – and you owe her a favor so you put on some shiny shoes and leave your project in the lurch. Don’t stand up your writing by caving to social pressure! It’s great that you’re popular and people like you – good for you! But when it comes to your family and friends, be disciplined about who is really important. Ask yourself what relationships you want to nurture and how. And learn to say no to everything else. Yes, the people in your life are super important. But the ones who really matter will still be there after you get that writing done.

2.     Use the time you have. Yes, this may seem obvious. For those of you who think an entire 4 (or more) hours is necessary to get any work done – this one’s for you! Be creative with the time you have, even when it doesn’t feel like enough. You know what? It will never feel like enough. The sooner you accept that, the better chances you have of optimizing the time you do have. So commit to starting and putting some words down, whether it’s an hour or three hours or even just thirty minutes. Sit your ass down and do it whenever you can.

3.     Lie. Okay… so this goes back to rule number one. (and I know some of you were wondering about this…) We all have those family members or friends who cannot take “no” for an answer. They’re persistent, annoying, maybe even needy. They don’t “get” that your writing is crucial to you – like breathing. And being honest about prioritizing your writing over [insert their needs here] is unacceptable and most likely, bounds for a huge rift in the relationship. Assuming this isn’t your significant other (in which case, we should be having a whole other discussion) – lie. It might not make you feel like a good person, but the truth is: we all do it. We do it by accident (“But I do want to watch your new band perform on a Saturday morning!”). We do it on purpose (“Of course I’m not attracted to anyone else but you.”). We do it for survival. And your writing deserves to survive. So just stop being so nice and lie.

4.     Make it a date! Yes, I want you to get romantic with your writing. Unless you’re one of those humans who doesn’t use a calendar for anything (and good luck to you in that case), you gotta do this. Block the time out – whatever it is – and put it in the schedule. Set reminders. Set alarms. And if you have to, set a date with another friend who writes. You can meet up or check in remotely and commit to the same chunk of time to be writing together. How much more fun would writing be if you knew you were doing it with a friend? Plus, it keeps you accountable. There’s this thing with humans when we aren’t responsible to someone outside of ourselves, we just don’t keep our promises. So set the date. And make it happen!

5.     Create a mindset mantra. Here’s the thing. Sometimes you’ve set up the space and time and held up your end of the bargain. You show up to your computer and yet, while your body is present – your mind is in a hundred other places. You can’t seem to get your head in the game. If that sounds like you – create a mantra, a philosophy, a spiritual practice, or a meditation to get you centered and focused. Whatever will help you remember that this time is precious. It’s yours. You deserve it and your writing deserves it so just be with it and enjoy the process!

As always, please let us know in the comments how it’s going or tweet me at @jensenpants with your writing gripes and wins!