The Time to Write is Right Now

“Three o’clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do.” -Jean-Paul Sartre

I used to think I needed an entire uninterrupted day in which to get any real writing done. If I had a doctor’s appointment or a meeting to attend, my focus was shot. Then I had kids, and I learned that the busiest people are the ones who get the most done. All of a sudden writing time had to be seized whenever possible–during naps or late at night. Deep down though, I still held the belief that I needed long, uninterrupted stretches of time–5 hours at least–in order to be as productive as I wanted to be.

What I’ve discovered though is that if I wait around for those stretches of time to materialize, they never do. Life only gets more full of interests, obligations, and commitments. Time becomes more precious. The only time we have to write is that which we demand will be reserved for writing.

An hour is enough time. A half hour is enough time. Fifteen minutes is enough time, even, to make some kind of progress.

Perhaps more difficult than setting aside time for writing, these days, is devoting the attention necessary to writing. We writers must make difficult choices about what we devote our attention to. If we are going to be serious about writing, then maybe social media, the news, magazines, internet browsing, TV and movies have to take up very small places in our lives.

I’ve experimented with giving up most or all of the above at different times, and it’s amazing how much more focused I can be when I’m not dividing my attention between so many things. Instead of checking your email at any given moment, why not devote that moment to writing? Instead of sitting down to television, why not sit down with your manuscript and see exactly how much you can accomplish in the next 30 minutes?


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