Monday, March 12, 2012

Protecting Our Writing Time

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Astronomical Clock detail

There’s always going to be a million other things for us to do besides writing.

When we’re not at our day job, our leisure time is limited by other demands on our time….housework, yard work, errands, and family responsibilities.

Recently, my friends have been very understanding about how much time I’ve got to take for writing and writing related promo. When they call me to see if I can talk on the phone or have coffee or meet for lunch, they’ll ask me what my day looks like. Do I need to write more today? Am I on deadline?

This is because I’ve been honest with them in the past couple of years. “I’d love to go but I’ve still got a few pages to write today. Can we meet tomorrow, instead?”

Ultimately, I think the only way others will respect our writing time is if we take it seriously, ourselves.

Ways to get others to respect our writing time: Tell people we’re working on our writing. I think using the word work helps people to realize that we’re taking it seriously.

Explain that we’ve got a goal to meet or a deadline to make (even if it’s our own.)

Treat it seriously, especially if we’re not yet published. That’s the only way to finish a book and move on the path of publication—by devoting time to writing.

Remember that to keep friends and family on board with us for our writing, that we don’t always need to say no. Saying no is one reason that they might grow jealous or resentful of our writing. If we have to turn down an invitation one day, it’s probably good to try right then to plan for a better day or time to meet up.

Learn to say no. This is a tough one for me. But especially if we work at home, it's important to be able to tell people no. I've been a volunteering mom for years and years--but I've now gotten to the point where I have to pick and choose what I spend my time doing. It's not that the volunteering isn't's just that that was all I ended up doing when I opened myself up to it. At this point, I'm able to politely say no via email and on the phone....and I'm working on being able to say no in person.

Other ways to get our goals knocked out so we’re more available during our “free” time:

Write first. Or write last. Depending on your circadian schedule, either write first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Either way, try to knock out your goal for that day…and make it an easy goal. There’s nothing like a tough goal for getting discouraged.

Then, whatever else we write that day is icing on the cake. And we do free up a little extra time for ourselves for whatever else we want to do…because we respected our writing time enough to address it right away.

How do you handle the family/friend/writing time balance? How do you get the rest of the world to respect your writing time?