This week, our featured guest blogger is Joseph Bennett giving tips on finding time to write. He is a writer, podcaster, and co-facilitator of the Wonderous Writer’s Retreat.
One of our favorite ‘reasons’ to avoid writing is the ol’ “I don’t have time to write!” Can you relate to that? Perhaps you’re one of the few that doesn’t feel that way, but likely your friends, colleagues and writing partners do. It’s a fairly universal theme that affects many of us. And here’s the thing: when we say that to ourselves – or to those same friends, colleagues and writing partners – about why we’re not writing, they often nod their heads in agreement. Oh, I totally know what you mean. I don’t have time either!
And, then… we don’t get any writing done. We support each other in our limitations, and as you may well remember if you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them. And that, m’dear, is a fantastic recipe for getting stuck, not moving forward, and not getting any writing done.
What I know about my own writing process (and those of my clients) is this: we feel better when we’re writing and not so good when we’re not.
To help alleviate some of the suffering around your own writing practice woes, below are three tools for you. Feel free to put them in your proverbial toolbox and use them to empower your Self, and ultimately, create the time to write.
1. Open it up.
Marie Forleo, author of the #1 NYT bestselling Everything is Figureoutable and host of the award-winning online MarieTV, teaches us if it’s not scheduled, it’s not happening. Makes sense, right? If your writing is important to you, and we assume it is because you’re here, then take a tiny step and start by scheduling it. Open up your day-planner, old-school paper calendar or Google calendar (or however you keep track of your day) and plop it in. Make you and your writing a priority. You deserve that gift. And… it doesn’t have to be huge chunks of time, either! Five minutes, four times a week of actual writing practice is a gazillion times better than hundreds of hours of wishful ‘oh, I wish I could write, but I didn’t, or hours spent fretting about not writing.
Quick story: I have a friend that I met in a writing class recently who has a writing practice of eight sentences (yes, only eight sentences!) a day. “If I can write eight sentences a day, I’m good. I don’t need to write more than that. I can if I want to, but the goal is to write just eight,” she said. Schedule it in. Honor your time (and your word) about your practice. If it says ‘playing with my writing” or “creative writing time” in the calendar on Tuesday at 8:15 pm, then honor that — and get your butt in the chair at 8:14 pm (a minute early to find a pencil;).
The next day? Lather, rinse, and repeat.
2. Say it, and mean it.
“All successful people have the same word in common that helps them be successful. Do you know what the word is?” When writer and business leader Donald Miller asked that in one of his webinars, I spontaneously shouted “Yes!” I believed that all successful people say ‘yes’ to opportunities. And I was 100% wrong. The answer, actually, is No. Successful people say “no” a lot– to distractions, invitations and shiny objects – so they can take care of the task at hand, which might be managing their business, creating their vision or even meditating. In your case, your task at hand might be creating the time to write. The ‘reasons’ (there’s that word again) that we don’t say no — to friends and family and co-workers — is the subject of another blog; suffice it to say that it’s closely related (in my experience) to our self-esteem and our desire to not want to disappoint others. But, guess what, Buttercup? You might disappoint a few people when you choose to say no to them and their invitations, but at least you’re not disappointing your Self. And that’s priceless, yes?
3. What did you say?
Your final tool is super powerful: your words matter. Not only the ones you write in your books and blogs but the words that you say to your Self.
- the words and stories you tell yourself about your schedule
- how busy you are
- how you don’t have control over your time
- how time is running out
- that you don’t have time for what you really want to do
- how your life and your dreams don’t really matter…
All those ruminations and beliefs are being heard on a deep, molecular level. (See the film What the Bleep Do We Know for more on this.) If that’s true (and I wholeheartedly believe it is) then, perhaps, you’ll want to shift the way you speak about your writing and the time you have available for it?
Try this: For one week, simply pay attention to what you say to others and, most importantly, your Self. What we say, out loud and silently, affects our life, so notice how you speak about your writing practice, time, self-care, lack of energy or focus—nothing else this first week, except to notice. The following week, see if you can intentionally and mindfully choose more empowering words around your writing experience.
Want more time to write? Tell your Self “I have time today to write for 5 minutes,” and then watch how the Universe conspires to help make that happen.
Simply try these three tools: schedule it in, say no and mean it, and pay attention to your words. They’re designed to help you pick up the pen, pencil or keyboard and make precious time to write your precious work.
You got this, and I believe in you!
Joseph Bennett is the co-founder (with his husband, writer and actor Eli Hans) of San Miguel Retreats in San Miguel de Allende. Joseph is the co-facilitator of the upcoming Wondrous Writer’s Retreat in April 2022. He also co-hosts a weekly podcast Are You Waiting for Permission? with Confidently Speaking coach, actor and director Meridith Grundei. Joseph writes self-healing books, poetry and self-help blogs.
You’re welcome to connect with Joseph at josephbennett.org .