I work full-time in the corporate world as a Business Analyst and I can’t count the number of times over the past few years that I’ve been asked the same question: How do you find the time to write?
Well, I don’t believe it’s so much finding the time as it is making the most of the time available. If there’s something we feel compelled or called to do we can’t wait until we have time. It’s up to us to adjust our priorities in order to make time to respond to that calling.
Here are a few things that have been invaluable in allowing me to make time to write over the past few years.
Make deliberate choices. Before I started working on my memoir I was an avid quilter. Given that I have a finite amount of free time, I realized pretty quickly that I wouldn’t be able to do everything I wanted to do on weekends and evenings.
I made a conscious choice to set my quilting aside for the time it took to write my book. I packed away my fabric and projects, covered my sewing machine, and hung one of my favorite quilts in my office to remind me that it was temporary and I would return to quilting one day.
Location, location, location. A few years ago I was fortunate to be able to switch to a flex schedule at work that allows me to work longer days and have every second Friday off. I put firm boundaries around my Fridays and call them my writing days. Often I pack up my laptop, my thesaurus, notebook, favorite pens, and head to the library to write.
Sometimes, on days when I get an early start, I like to settle into my favorite spot at a local coffee shop for a couple of hours first. Can’t I write at home? Certainly! But I find it harder to focus at home because there is always something like laundry, dishes, or dogs clamoring for my attention. Packing up my supplies and going someplace else to write helps me focus on writing as a priority.
Family support. One of the cool things about being married for a long time is that you develop your own marital language. Sometimes when I’m feeling inspired or need time to finish something I send an email to my husband with one sentence: PID until 6:00. That lets him know I’ll be sequestering myself in my office—my “woman cave” as I like to refer to it—until 6:00 and am not to be disturbed.
PID is our abbreviation for “pretend I’m dead.” It’s not as macabre as it sounds. It comes from a cartoon we read once together in the Sunday paper. The point is that I’m able to ask for what I need and fortunate that my husband is supportive enough to allow me that time. There’s no way I could have written Two Hearts without his support.
If we have a burning desire to write our story—or to do anything else for that matter—we must be mindful of making the best use of our time. We might dream of retreating to a mountain cabin for a few months of solitude in which to write, but the reality is that not many of us will have that luxury. We have to be creative with the time available to us.
These are a few things that have worked for me. I’d love to hear what time management tools you employ in your own lives that allow you to follow your passions.
Linda Hoye is a writer, editor, adoptee, and somewhat-fanatical grandma. Her memoir, Two Hearts: An Adoptee’s Journey Through Grief to Gratitude will offer hope and inspiration to anyone who’s life has been touched by adoption. She currently lives in the state of Washington with her husband and their two Yorkshire terriers, but Saskatchewan, Canada will always be her heart’s home.