With zero words to show for it.
Last month at a book signing, I met a woman who told me she’d always wanted to write. My response: Just do it. She then proceeded to stare at me, perhaps not understanding, so I repeated myself, pumping a fist in the air for emphasis: Just do it! Just sit your tush in a chair and get to typing. After which she looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. Or was suggesting she lose hers, for how could she ever find the time?
Perhaps you’re thinking the same thing, but before you walk away frustrated, let me suggest: We all have the time to do that which is most important to us.
The problem is not so much finding the time to write but making the time. For some, this comes down to simple time management: less television, Facebook, or crafting. For others, making time to write first requires conquering an inner and outer battle.
Because to say yes to something always means saying no to something else.
For the parents and spouses out there, this may even mean saying no, on occasion, to those you love.
This is where it gets hard, leading to all sorts of guilt and frustration—for everyone. I believe these negative and self-defeating emotions can often be avoided when we follow a few simple steps.
1. Begin by honestly evaluating your time.
Before you begin to randomly slice away at your to-do list, ask yourself: What activities do I engage in that have little relational, financial, or spiritual value?
For example, the average American wastes 5 hours a day watching television. In the course of a week, that’s 35 hours of possible writing time! Can you imagine how many words one could write in that amount of time?
What activities are you doing inefficiently? When I was a teenager, I worked as a waitress, and one phrase my manager repeated often: Full hands in, full hands out. This meant, always be doing something. When you return to the kitchen, grab a dirty plate to take with you. On your way back to the dining room, say, to take an order, bring a water pitcher.
In other words, find ways to maximize your efforts, and be intentional!
2. Engage your family in the time-management challenge.
But first, make sure you set the stage, because timing and setting is crucial. Don’t start demanding me-time during an argument or stressful period. Rather, wait until you and your spouse or family are engaged in a relaxing activity. Then, share your heart openly and honestly, explaining why writing is so important to you and how much time you’d like to devote to the craft. Then, ask them to share their perspective and feelings, and truly listen! With an open heart and mind.
3. Try to find a win-win
My family is much more responsive to my time-management efforts when I’ve demonstrated, through my words and actions, that they are a priority. Because honestly, if we’re not able to write AND spent time with our loved ones, we don’t have time to write. Relationships must always come first. We might, however, have time that can be divided between the two. When this happens, quality gains utmost importance. If you’ve got a crazy deadline, make sure to plan a family outing for after. Then spend the day and be 100% present.
Do you have any suggestions to share? How do you balance relationships with writing demands? Share your thoughts with us then we’ll all learn from each other.
Jennifer Slattery writes missional fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate
Make sure to stop by tomorrow, when you can enter to win a free copy of Jennifer's latest release, Beyond I Do.
Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.
You can find it here.
Read a free, 36-page excerpt here.