How Do You Make the Time to Write?

Publish date:
Image placeholder title

Since college, I've held fast to an existential philosophy that goes something like this:

We make time for whatever is important to us. Our actions are the biggest indicators of who we are.

Not surprisingly, when I began working for Writer's Digest, I had little patience for writers who complained about having lack of time. We're all given the same amount of time in a day, and we make choices we must be held accountable for.

Those who don't have time to write:

  • haven't yet made the necessary sacrifices to create time (like giving up TV or sleep)
  • OR: don't yet have the discipline to set aside the time to write
  • AND: may be too afraid to make the time (fear of failing or starting at all)

When attending the Midwest Writers Workshop one year, I met Haven Kimmel's mother, Delonda. It was an otherworldly experience since I knew her first as a character in Kimmel's memoir, A Girl Named Zippy.

At the time, I was not writing a word. I carried guilt over it—I was an editor and publisher of references for writers, yet felt uncomfortable telling anyone I was a writer. Because I really wasn't (despite the degrees and background).

As I was confessing my lack of writerhood, Delonda said, with such grace and empathy, "Why dear, you're exhausted."

It was probably the kindest thing anyone had said to me at that point in my life, and she squeezed my hand as she said it.

I had never looked at it from that perspective before.

Suddenly my own choice came into view—it wasn't a matter of being "good enough" or productive enough or disciplined enough to be a writer. During this period of my life, I focus on Writer's Digest, and I have to acknowledge that, for as long as I do, my energy for other things will be limited.

It's important to acknowledge and fully realize what choices we are making—either in the short-term or long-term—that impact other things we want to achieve. What sacrifices are we making, implicitly or explicitly?

We can't have it all (at least not all at once). We have to choose.

Photo credit: gilderic


The “Secret Sauce” Necessary to Succeed at a 30-Day Writing Challenge

In this article, author and writing coach Nina Amir lays out her top tips to master your mindset and complete a 30-day writing challenge.


Crashing Into New Worlds: Writing About the Unfamiliar

Award-winning crime author Stephanie Kane explains how she builds characters unlike herself and navigates their worlds to create vivid and realistic stories.


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Without a Trace

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character leave without a trace.


Vintage WD: The Truth about True Crime

In this article from July 2000, true crime novelist and former New York Times correspondent Lisa Beth Pulitzer shares with us some key insights for breaking into the true crime genre.


New Agent Alert: Barb Roose of Books & Such Literary Management

New literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Barb Roose of Books & Such Literary Management) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.


Evoking Emotion in Fiction: Seven Pragmatic Ways to Make Readers Give a Damn

Evoking emotion on the page begins with the man or woman at the keyboard. Dustin Grinnell serves up seven straightforward tactics for writing tear-jerking stories that make your readers empathize with your characters.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 546

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a spooky poem.


Learn Better World-Building Strategies Through World of Warcraft and the New Shadowlands Expansion

WD editor and fantasy writer Moriah Richard shares five unique ways in which writers can use World of Warcraft to better build their worlds—without playing the game.