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    Home Columns

    How to Make Time to Write

    Let me just say this: I don't have the answer. Sorry, but if you were maybe looking for an easy way out, there isn't one. I can give you suggestions based on my experience but you know your own life habits so you'll have to figure out where to find the time for yourself.

    We live in a stressful world because there is always More To Do. If you have children, there is always More To Pick Up. This last statement is not made from experience; this is a rumor I have heard from my child-bearing friends.

    I only have six cats and I still can't believe the care they require, even though I'm smug that I don't have to pay for college. "Pet me, feed me, empty my poop." The whining never ends. One of my cats has even used the attention-getting device of jumping on my desk and draping herself across my keyboard. This is cat-speak for "Please get off your ass and feed me; I haven't eaten for an hour."

    I do have some suggestions, but I do not take responsibility for your own outcome. However, I will be happy to read any e-mails you wish to send detailing the catharsis my suggestions have inflicted upon your life. Death threats, as always, will not get a reply.


    Factors You Can Control

    Television. I know this is a tough one, especially if you're a Baby-Boomer. Depending on your age, you probably grew up with everything from American Bandstand to M*A*S*H. That means you may have to give up UC Undercover or worse yet, West Wing. Okay, maybe not UC Undercover; for us girls there is the Oded factor, I mean let's be reasonable.

    There are only 24 hours in a day so something has to go. Don't try not sleeping -- too little REM sleep alone can make you insane, according to Dr. Beverly Crusher on Star Trek TNG. Whoops. See? Another one I have to give up. Unless you can write while the Ferengi are eating the universe, use the Off switch.


    Human Factors

    Socializing. Forget it. It's hard, but wave goodbye to friends and relatives. Whiny kids, guilt-giving relatives, demanding significant others. Every writer has experienced some form of this at one time as deadline approaches, whether the deadline is yours or your editor's. After all, those close to us do not always take our writing seriously. You have two choices when pressure builds. No, hiring a hit-person is not one of the choices -- besides, hit-persons are exorbitantly priced.

    Your only choices are to give up writing or deal with it. It's that simple. If you don't want to give up your writing, then you have to find a way to deal with the human factor. Explain how important writing is to you. Ask for their understanding. Incidentally, explaining this to a cat doesn't work -- I tried it. Words fail me at the feline looks I received.

    You realize that what we're coming down to here is one single question:

    How important is your writing to you?

    No one else is going to put any importance on it if you don't. Sure, take a break with the kids and have a Slurpee in the park. Go out to dinner with your husband and have an uninterrupted dialogue about politics and sex. Go shopping with a friend for two hours. But remember that you have to take those hours from somewhere to make up for lost writing time.

    There's an easy way to tell if you haven't spent enough time writing. Did you write what you wanted this week? No? Then only you know what you have to cut out to get the job done. Sometimes it's brutal and it probably involves the Human Factor but it has to be done if you want to write.

    I have to go now. I have to go unlock the closet and liberate my lacerated husband and my six cats.

    Copyright © 2001 Lyne Royce

    Lyne Royce is a freelance writer living in the desert east of Phoenix. She lives with her devoted husband and six spoiled and previously stray cats. She's fervent about Native American history and enjoys reading books on the subject when she has the time. After 15 years teaching software classes, and two years doing Web site design, Lyne decided to listen seriously to her muse and has participated in writing workshops and clinics on the Web, including the Writer's Digest Workshops' Fundamentals of Non-Fiction Writing, Focus on the Non-Fiction Magazine Article; WriteRead.com's Query Letter Clinic; Writers.com's workshop Writing and publishing Magazine Articles; the humor clinic, Writing from the Left Side of the Brain with Jane Combs; and Secrets of the Professional Freelancer at Coffeehouse.com. She belongs to several writers discussion groups but her favorite, Writers Pad, is where she enjoys learning from her writer friends on a daily basis that it is possible for a writer to become a published writer.

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ



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