How many of you reading this blog made a New Year’s resolution to write more in 2016? I know I did! I don’t even make resolutions, usually, but I really wanted to try to write more, and just making it a goal of mine hasn’t panned out in the past. So I was hoping the added importance of it being a New Year’s resolution might help it stick.
Maybe, maybe not. According to statistics from Harris Interactive, about 45 percent of Americans make some sort of goals for the new year. But 1 in 3 have ditched those vows by the end of January. Those stats are pretty dismal. So far I’m not in that one-third who have given up, and hopefully you aren’t either.
I think one of the most important ways to keep your resolution to write more, to finally make this the year when you finish that short story or novel, or get your gardening book completed, is to make time to write. All of us lead frantically busy lives, filled up with work, family obligations, and other appointments. But if we’re serious about writing, we need to make it one of those appointments on our calendar that we don’t cancel or reschedule. I heard advice earlier this month about keeping your resolutions to exercise, and they said to schedule it on your daily calendar just like you would a doctor’s appointment. I think the same holds true for writing. But how do you make time?
One of my favorite essays of all time is Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. When I was in college and reading this for the first time it riled up the feminist in me. “Yes, women do need a room of their own. A place to go, a place to write, a place to let the creativity flow.” Now, in 2016, a place might not be as hard to get as time. And putting all feminist leanings aside, time might be just as hard for men to find as women.
Just as Virginia Woolf had to make a space to write, a room of her own where she could escape, we need to find that place as well, and carve out time to let our minds work. Here are a few ways to “make” time, and hopefully keep your writing goals.
- Get your family on board with your goals. We all have family making demands on us, whether it’s your mother calling every day “just to check in,” your spouse wanting you to do activities with them, or kids constantly needing your attention. And while it’s important to spend time with those you love, you can also be clear that you need some time without distractions. These people are your biggest cheerleaders. Get them on board with your goals, and they’ll be glad to give you a few hours a day to chase your dreams.
- Put writing on your calendar. Just like they recommend for exercise, schedule in your writing time. Put it in your phone’s calendar or add it to your daily planner. Once it’s in there, scheduled in pen (or in digital form) it’s easier not to let other things take precedence with your time.
- Avoid distractions. Betsy shared The Writer’s Circle’s photo on our All About the Authors Facebook page the other day, a pie chart that shows how writers spend their time at their computer, and Watching YouTube Videos and Reading Facebook Posts were two of the biggest pieces of the pie. Log out of Facebook, leave your phone in the other room, and get to work. This is where having a room of one’s own comes into play. It’s a way to get away from the distractions of life. If you still find yourself staring into space, that’s okay. That’s where the inspiration comes from, right?
- Make sure you are giving yourself a big enough chunk of time. I have found it’s better to have a few hours at a stretch, rather than 30 minutes her and an hour there. If that means you can’t write every day, that’s okay. Just make sure on the days you do set aside time for writing it’s enough time to really get into your work and keep the juices flowing. The worst feeling is to be right in the middle of a writing streak and have to go to another appointment.
- Figure out what time of day you’re most productive, and start with that. Everyone has different times of day they like to set aside for writing. Some of it might depend more on your family’s schedule than when you’re actually at your best, but hopefully those two will intersect. If you have your best bursts of creativity first thing in the morning, set the alarm clock and get yourself up. If you’re a night owl, work then. The idea is to find a time that works for you, hopefully cutting down on the stare-into-space time.
I am going to try to use these tips to stick to my own writing goals this year. Making it a priority should make all the difference in the world, and I hope it does for you too.