On Stealing Time to Write

I’m a man that works well with a routine. If I have somewhere to be or something to do, I carve time out of my schedule to do it. I do it within that timeframe, too. Else the world ends.

I used to think I didn’t have to write that way. I thought writing was different. I thought writing was something that happened and that if I wanted to write badly enough that I would find time to write.

Twenty-odd years later, I found myself with no books and a handful of pretty crappy short stories.

Writing had not simply happened.

So I strapped on my Big Boy Pants and went to work in the summer of 2010 and finished the first draft of Birthright. I had done it. I had written a novel. Unfortunately, the summer of 2011 was nowhere near as productive. I thought that I could both play World of Warcraft every day, write a second novel, and revise the first one.

Nope.

So when 2012 rolled around, I figured out something that worked for me after reading an ebook by the guys over at Gamer Lifestyle:

If you want to be a writer, you have to get up early to write. Or you have to stay up late to write. Or you have to spend your lunch hours writing. Or you have to write when you’re getting your me-time on the toilet. Or you have to write between diaper changes or those sweet, sweet twenty minutes when your beautiful, baby son is actually asleep.

See their point?

If not, let me spell it out for you: that book ain’t gonna write itself, son. You can make all the excuses you want, but until you decide to sacrifice something–that something being time–you are never going to make it as a writer. It all boils down to whether nor not you have the wherewithal, the gumption, the spunk, the moxie, the desire to be a writer.

Honestly, it comes down to how badly you want it.

And for me, I want it. I want it bad. I want it like the old, fat me wanted cake. (Disclaimer: the new, skinnier me still wants cake. A lot.) Because I wanted it so much, I had to sacrifice something.

That something turned out to be time. More specifically, I sacrificed time I could be sleeping. I get up between 6 and 7 am every morning, write for no less than an hour, then get a shower and go to work. I do this Monday to Friday. My daily quota is 1,000 words, but if I don’t get it, that’s okay. There’s always tomorrow. Or that night. Or the weekend.

The important aspect of this whole mess is that I’m writing. I’m making myself write. And those days that I don’t write? Maybe there’s an early doctor’s appointment or something like that?

I miss it. Like a bunch.

Writing every day is my habit. I like it. Some people run first thing in the morning, but I write. I grab a cup of coffee and settle in with my lovely MacBook and Scrivener and pound the keys, writing about technomages, Instances, steampunk airships, demon possession, or whatever other zany ideas that are in this big, silly, old head of mine.

If I write 1k a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, then I will have written 260,000 words. That’s roughly 2 novels. If you’re going by NaNoWriMo standards, you’re looking at 5 novels, not counting any time that it takes for revision. Even barring emergencies that may take up 20 days a year, you’ll still have over 200k words written.

And for what? 5 hours a week. Let me repeat that: 5. Hours. A. Week. 5 hours a week. That’s it.

Most of us spend that playing with our cats, fooling around with our iPhones, or just staring into space wondering why we’re not famous authors and Stephenie Meyer is. Five hours is simply not that much time.

And in all honesty, my daily life routine hasn’t really changed much, if any at all. I still go to work at the same time; I still go to bed at the same time, and I still have my evenings with my friends and family. And really, I don’t even miss the sleep. I don’t even notice it.

But you know what I do notice? That since February 13, I’m almost 40k into one novel and (with Austin’s chapters included) 30k into another. Two books. One month. Five hours a day.

Is that worth missing an hour of sleep? Hell yes.

So tell me, when are you going to steal time to write?

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