Lately, I've been hearing a lot of people say they don't have time to start their book.
They have children out of school.
They have a lot of business conflicts.
They're working on personal changes.
They're schedule is just too busy.
I understand. I do.
When you're not used to writing, it can feel like there's never time to write.
It can feel like all you really need is to sit down, in peace and quiet, let your mind wander in free space, and get down to business with no interruptions.
Here's the blunt honest truth... that way of thinking is an idealized, utopic writing world that doesn't really exist for most people.
If you're waiting for the "perfect" time to write your book, you'll be waiting forever.
Which also means... your book will never get done.
The book you know is built into your bones... will never be read.
The story you know you need to tell... won't be told.
The characters whose stories are ready to shine... won't be seen.
Don't get me wrong: You can write in peace and quiet. Morning pages can be a great exercise. And when you have uninterrupted time, you should be writing.
All of those things are fantastic… if they’re available to you.
What I'm saying is that they are a luxury.
What I'm saying is that they are readily available for a handful of people, and those people talk about how great those luxuries are, and then everyone else, who doesn’t have them, thinks they can’t write a book.
What I am saying is you don’t need luxuries to write a book.
It’s harder, but it’s possible.
In fact, in total transparency, here are what a few days of writing look like for me:
Total words: 1100 words appx 1hr 20 min.
Total time: 1hr 10 min.
* 9:45 am wrote 100 words (about 5 minutes) about a quote from a Food Network show and a few notes while prepping food for breakfast that I might use for a blog post
* 2:25 pm wrote 300 words (about 25 minutes) about why I love my fiance at our wedding tasting that I’ll use for my vows
* 4:00pm, wrote appx 500 ( about 25 minutes) words on the drive home from the tasting while my fiance drove about the experience of going to a tasting, not liking the food and already being stuck with the caterer, and anxiety.
* 10:45pm, wrote about 200 (about 15 minutes) more words for the blog post while watching West Wing with my fiance.
Total words: 2,225
Total Time: appx 3 hr 5 min.
* 7:30 am wrote about 250 (about 20 minutes) words after police came to the house in search of a neighbor's son. Created a fictionalized version of the event to tie into another story being written.
* 10:45am wrote 500 words (about 45 min) to finish first draft of blog post while getting lunch ready for my son and myself
* 2:00pm wrote 500 words ( about 30 min) to work ideas for new coaching service in between client calls
* 9:10pm wrote 1000 ( about 1.5 hr) words towards short story about police that went towards novel while sitting next to my fiance in bed.
Writing every day doesn't always look possible, but it is. Each day, I wrote in different lengths of time, about different things, and sometimes while doing something else.
I wrote for my blog
I wrote for my business.
I wrote for my wedding.
I wrote a short story.
I wrote while I got my son's lunch ready.
I wrote while I ate at my wedding tasting.
I wrote before I went to bed, while sitting next to my fiance.
I'm not afforded the ability to sit in peace and quiet for 2 hours every morning to write.
But the perceived view of “privilege” isn’t what makes writing possible either.
In the introduction to Amy Poehler's book Yes Please, the actress describes the writing process in a way that perfectly encapsulates what writing a book looks like for the majority of writers.
Yes, an actress, was able to write about what it’s like for most people.
Because she’s got the same problem as everyone else: She’s crazy busy and she knew she needed to write a book.
Here’s the quote that will rock your world (which I gave line breaks and changed font sizes to emphasize certain parts):
"Everyone lies about writing
“They lie about how easy it is or how hard it was.
“They perpetuate a romantic idea
that writing is some beautiful experience
that takes place in an architectural room
filled with leather novels and chai tea.
“They talk about their "morning ritual"
and how they "dress for writing"
and the cabin in Big Sur where they go to "be alone"
-- blah blah blah.
“No one tells the truth about writing a book.
Authors pretend their stories were always shiny
and just waiting to be written.
“The truth is, writing is this:
and occasionally great
but usually not.
“Even I have lied about writing.
I have told people writing this book has been like brushing away dirt from a fossil.
What a load of shit.
It has been like hacking away at a freezer with a screwdriver...”
“I wrote this book after my kids went to sleep.
I wrote this book on subways
and on airplanes
and in between setups while I shot a television show.
I wrote this book from scribbled thoughts I kept in the Notes app on my iPhone
and conversations I had with myself
in my own head
before I went to sleep.
“I wrote it ugly and in pieces.”
What's the hardest part about all of this?
Deciding to show up, every day.
Knowing that some days you'll have 10 minutes to write before a doctor's appointment, and that's it, and doing it anyway.
Knowing that other days you'll have three 15 minute segments to write down your ideas, and feeling exhausted from running around all day, and doing it anyway.
It's hands down the hardest part.
Especially when you know that some days you're going to sit down, because you actually have the time to write... and nothing comes out. Or you get emotional about the subject matter. Or you have the time... and you start cleaning instead.
Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, writes:
The amateur believes he must first overcome his
fear; then he can do hiswork. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread free artist... He's still terrified but he forces himself forward in spite of his fear. He knows that once he gets out into the action, his fear will recede and he'll be ok.
Are you ready to become a professional writer? Are you ready to show up every day?
What's keeping you from getting there? What's holding you back from writing the book you're meant to write?