Can’t Find Time for Writing? Then You’re Not Busy Enough
You have probably heard the saying that if you want something done, you should ask someone who’s busy, and I have found this to be true when it comes to my creative writing.
The last couple of months have been some of the busiest of my life. I got two new clients for my business, which both involve steep learning curves and a lot more work. Plus I was offered two amazing speaking opportunities that involved a lot of workshop development and prep work.
At the same time, an idea for a new book started pestering me. This idea was very loud and persistent, demanding it be written. The problem was that I had three unrelated manuscripts in varying stages of completion – polishing, editing and revising.
There were no specific deadlines for these manuscripts so I was just chipping away at them when I ‘could’, while simultaneously lamenting that the process was taking forever.
I wasn’t prepared to put the other manuscripts on hold, so
I set myself word count targets and a deadline for completing the various stages of each work-in-progress book.
For my new ‘idea’ I set myself a goal of entering the completed manuscript in a specific competition in 12 months time. Working backward I laid out a plan and a timeline that started with research while I finished off the other books.
There was the tiny issue that I was incredibly busy with my business, as well as many other parts of everyday life which include being a mum to an 8-year-old boy.
The Difference Between Being Busy & Out of Control
It didn’t take long before I was feeling overwhelmed. I’m a trained journalist and the idea of missing deadlines (even if they are self-imposed), doesn’t sit well with me.
I’m also someone who likes to feel in control of most aspects of my life.
While I know I am way more productive when I’m busy, I don’t like being the kind of busy where you feel like you are spinning multiple plates and if just one of them falls, everything will come tumbling down.
I needed to put order into my life.
Order and Routine
Deciding to ‘Marie Kondo’ my whole house at the same time may seem counterintuitive to the idea of finding time to write. But doing a massive tidy up, starting with my desk, removed not just physical clutter but mental clutter from my life.
I created a space that I love turning up to every day and it has made a world of difference to my sense of calm and productivity.
I also put in place a routine to write every day (Monday to Friday). I know this isn’t practical for everyone but what I found was that my target word count became easier to achieve each day as I had momentum from the previous day.
In the past, I had only made time a couple of times or maybe even one day a week to write, and I found I wasted time having to catch up with where I had left off.
Why Busy Is Better
There have been periods when I wasn’t as busy with my client work and I could have spent more time on my writing but for some reason, I wasn’t motivated to get on with it.
At times I dreaded it because I had left it too long between drinks and not regularly immersing myself in my fictional world had dulled my enthusiasm.
The lack of a goal with a specific timeframe also affected my motivation.
Now with so much on my plate, I feel like I am kicking goals in several areas of my life. Having small wins in other activities, gives me the lift I need to write.
And even when something isn’t going right with my creative writing, I gain strength from other parts of my life – like Elizabeth Gilbert says in Big Magic, don’t put too much pressure on your writing by making it the only thing to focus on.
I counter my really busy periods by not working weekends and rarely working at night. This ensures I have time for family, friends and me.
So yes I am crazy busy during the limited hours I do work, but it seems to be working.
Don’t take my word for it though, the science agrees. Research has found that being busy can increase motivation and reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a task.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get busy.
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