As writers, we’ve heard the expression dozens of times: just show up at the page. But when our daily lives are crammed with job responsibilities, family obligations and holiday tasks, showing up at the page may be difficult to weave into our daily routines. Before we know it, one day morphs into one week, which then morphs into a month which then spirals into several before we realize, “Gee, I haven’t written anything in a while.”
Though it may appear nearly impossible, it is imperative that writers carve some time out each day to write despite the daily, unbridled events that life hurls at us. Even if it’s only for ten or fifteen minutes a day, these regular entries will not only serve to strengthen and improve our craft, but how else will those writing projects that we began with such passion and vigor see their final page? Indulge me as I illustrate the power of how necessary this slow and steady practice is.
When I first moved to Tennessee three and a half years ago, I was living only twenty-four miles from my day job in Nashville. That may not seem like a big deal, but in order to arrive to and from my work, I had to travel on several of the major interstates in Nashville, and then navigate through various back roads that were loaded with stop lights, stop signs and slow-moving school zone traffic. A commute, that mileage-wise should be a breeze, took me nearly an hour each morning and afternoon…and that was on good days when the highways were free from inclement weather, car accidents or road construction. At minimum, I was on the road two hours per day, which in a five-day workweek equates to ten hours of time that could be better spent writing.
Frustrated by the idea that I was becoming more intimate with my car than with my writing, I decided to take action. In order to build in some writing time, I had to make a tough decision: sleep less. Instead of leaving for work at my usual time, I left an hour earlier each day so I could spend that extra time practicing my craft.
What a new experience being the first to arrive to a dark and sleepy office space that oozed peace and quiet. Soon after beginning my ritual, I found that I arrived to work less stressed each morning and I left each afternoon a bit more satisfied, less resentful of my job because I was feeding my soul with my passion.
Over the course of several months, I became addicted to this alone time. However, the real reward presented itself after only nine months of following this routine. It was then when I completed what I will call a very rough, first draft of my memoir. How many pages did I write in just one hour per day? Over five hundred! Imagine what I could have accomplished if I had doubled my writing time each day.
If you desire to write regularly, but can’t seem to find the time, then I invite you to take a look at your schedule, a thorough look. Search not only for free gaps of time, but also for opportunities where you can rearrange it, like I did. The point is to commit yourself to your craft. That five hundred-page novel or that one hundred twenty-page screenplay that you began months ago will remain in limbo until you create a habit of devoting time to them. And don’t get hung up on what you write. Just write! You can edit later, when you reach the end result!