Stealing the Minutes
“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.”
― Lao Tzu
When I surveyed writers last year, 39% said the biggest thing stopping them from writing was finding the time.
Your days are packed, your schedule is busy, people want and need things from you. That is true today, it was true yesterday, and it will be true tomorrow.
Your circumstances may change, becoming “easier” or “more difficult,” but it is unlikely that vast amounts of unused time will suddenly open up.
There are 1,140 minutes in a day. The trick is to decide which 10 or 20 or even 60 of those minutes you’re going to devote to writing.
Maybe you have to “steal” those minutes from somewhere else. If you watch TV, it’s easy to steal those minutes from TV. If you surf the internet or browse social media, it’s easy to steal those minutes. If you watch or read the news: yep, still easy. You won’t even miss them, and may find yourself feeling calming for having set aside some of those old habits.
If you’re so busy with work, family, child care, or other things that can’t remember the last time you watched TV or browsed the internet, you’re going to have to steal those minutes from somewhere else that might be more reluctant to give them up. You’re going to have to say no to some people who want something from you. You’re going to leave a Zoom meeting early, cut short a phone call, and ignore non-crucial texts and emails.
I’m aware that I spend too much time on Twitter, instagram, and reading the news. (Okay, with some Netflix, Hulu, and HBO in the mix). So when I realize the writing has gotten away from me, I take a break from social media and news. Doing so always makes me feel better. I never steal time from family dinners, because that’s the best part of my day, or from family movie night, because there is something so revitalizing about watching a movie with the people I love most. But you have to decide for yourself. Where can you take a minute without interrupting your quality of life, or the quality of life of those closest to you? Of your 1,140 minutes each day, which ones can you devote to your writing?
Go on, steal the minutes. Decide which area of your life is most practical and easy to steal from, decide what you won’t really miss when you give it up. Then take 15 or 30 or even 60 of those minutes, and write.
Michelle Richmond is the New York Times bestselling author of five novels and two award-winning story collections. Michelle helps writers complete their first novel in Novel in 9 and the accelerated program Novel in 5. She is the founder of Fiction Master Class.