Just today, I had the chance to hear three women writers give readings and discuss their work. One was my gifted friend Nancy, who’s a member of my writing group. The three selections, two short stories and a fragment from a nonfiction book, were wildly different, yet each was powerful in its own way.
After the readings, someone asked Nancy and the other two women about the writing life and what it’s like. Each seemed to have a different take on it, but they all shared one thing in common: finding time to write has been a struggle.
Nancy spoke about trying to write while raising her three daughters; another woman also talked about sandwiching her writing in between family obligations. Nancy said that when she was working, she would get up at 5 AM and write for an hour-and-half before going to her job. The two other women said that they needed large chunks of time in which to do their work; each of them quit a job at one point in their careers in order to devote more time to their writing.
The bottom line: finding the time to write is often an ongoing struggle. Jobs, family demands, lack of progress, and just plain old fatique can all sap our creative juices. And yet, to improve our craft, we have to invest time and energy.
What to do? Sometimes, getting up earlier or blocking out time in the evening on a regular basis can be very productive. For others, taking a huge risk and letting other work go in order to devote large blocks of time to writing is the only way to make progress. This is the approach I’ve decided to take to finish my YA novel. It’s dangerous, I know. But I also know that this is the only way for me to go at this stage in my writing life. As Nancy put it, I have to “make the time” to write.
How about you? What strategies have you come up with for pursuing your writing goals and getting to the next level?