If your manuscript remains unfinished because you don’t have enough time to write, you aren’t alone. “Lack of time” is the reason most-often mentioned by those who say they want to write a book but haven’t achieved this goal. However, time isn’t you problem.
Your problem involves priorities and attention. You believe some activities are more important than writing and you focus on other goals or actions at the expense of your book.
How to Lose Found Time
This past week I spoke with a client of mine who had been too busy to finish the last two chapters in her book. She said, “I’ve been trying to finish this book for five years. These chapters are the only part I have left to write.”
I asked her how long it would take her to complete those two chapters. She said, “I estimate that I could finish them in about 10 hours.”
I thought about this for a minute. Then I replied, “If you had spent just two hours per year writing, you could have finished those two chapters by now.”
My client fell silent.
Two hours per year. That’s not even half a minute per day.
We explored what activities she might give up over the course of the next four weeks so she could “make” or “find” 10 hours to write the chapters. She could cut down on television watching a few days per week. She could spend less time chatting with her boyfriend. She could wake up or go to sleep 30 minutes earlier or later.
We then broke the 10-hour estimate into small writing periods she could manage in her “found” time. The goal: Finish the two chapters in 30 days. We determined that she could write for about 20 minutes per day for a month and finish the chapters easily. Or she could write for 30 minutes per day five days per week and meet her goal. Or she could write for two one hour and 15 minute periods twice per week and complete the final chapters in 10 hours.
My client smiled. This goal was doable! In 30 days could complete the last part of her book—something she hadn’t managed to do in five years!
Then I receive her first accountability email: “I brainstormed the content for the chapters, and I created an outline. But I didn’t write at all yesterday. Instead, during the time I should have been writing I had a long conversation with my boyfriend. Today, I also didn’t write during my designated writing time. Instead, I helped a friend look for an apartment.”
Focus Your Attention on Your Priorities
Do you see the problem? My client had the time to write, but she chose not to. Instead, she made something else a priority and focused her attention on that activity or goal.
You can “find” or “make” time to write. The question is: During that time, will you focus your attention on writing?
If you don’t use the time you have–even if it’s just 20 minutes per day–to write, you won’t finish your manuscript. That means you’ll continue aspiring to become an author and never become an author.
Today, make time for your writing. Then focus your attention on your writing project. See how much you get accomplished if you only focus on writing your book–and on nothing else.
Don’t check your email. Don’t surf the Internet for research. Don’t stop to see what a friend posted on Facebook. Don’t even answer the phone. Just focus on writing. Only pay attention to your book.
Leave me a comment, and let me know how much you get accomplished.
[…] Nina Amir reminds us how little chunks of time can make a big difference in our writing in “How to Make Time to Write.” […]