Finding time to write. It is on my list, along with finding time to exercise, finding time to read a book, finding time to “fill in the blank”. You see, time is my nemesis. It is the super villain to my super hero. It is always there. Lurking in the dark. Sneaking around the daylight. Hiding in the shadows.
I see time as a little goblin-type individual, like an evil leprechaun maybe, that skips around behind me. He has both hands firmly wrapped around the string of time, and just when I think I have some of this precious commodity, he pulls on that string and poof! It is gone. It is, I am afraid, a psychosis, but one that I know many people share. Never enough time. No doubt that’s been a lament for everyone, everywhere, since the concept of time started. Always a sense of time running out.
So what to do? This has been one of those soul-searching questions for me. How do I slow down time, elongate it, even create more. How do I make those 24-hours into 26. Sadly, as you no doubt know, that cannot be done. I have learned no matter how much I organize, live in the now, or employ other strategies to create more time, it does not happen. Time is static. Never changes. Always the same. So. Back to the beginning. Finding time to write.
There is a ton of material out telling you that you must make time to write. Stephen King’s infamous 2,000 words a day comes to mind. I have approximately ten books on writing. Of those ten books, I believe eight of them address that need to find time to write. Make it a priority. Make it important. Put it on your calendar, circle it in red. Let everyone know that you are going to write and then stick with it. Sound familiar to you?
It is good advice but today I want to introduce something else, because sometimes you just do not have the time. Life throws things at you, big things or a bunch of little things, and no matter how much you attempt to carve out a precious writing moment, it just will not happen.
But, there is a way, you just have to think a bit differently. It is ridiculously easy, which is exactly the point. Ready?
Come up with a goal. A number of words that you will accomplish in a day. Now half it. Half it again. And, half it again!
By this point your goal should be so small as to seem silly. Maybe it is 100 words. Maybe it is ten words. Whatever the case may be, the number must be so small that you think: “Of course I can accomplish that.”
This method of breaking down a goal into nibbles (smaller than bite size) is one I borrowed from Martha Beck. She uses this method when facing any kind of goal, exercise, diet, career change, novel, poem, or whatever the case may be. If you break the goal down into tiny pieces, the effort it takes will be almost non-existent. And eventually you will get to your goal.
I know there are those writers out there that cringe at the idea of only writing ten words a day, but for me sometimes that is all I can get done. And those ten words, seven days a week, for one year, can and will add up. And really, isn’t it better to get those ten words down? Better than letting them languish in your brain? You are still moving forward. Sure, it is a snail like pace, but isn’t there some overly-used fable about a tortoise winning the race against a hare?
In the end, just as I have learned with other aspects of my life (like running for instance), sometimes it is not how much you have accomplished, but that you have accomplished at all. You are a writer. You might get 8,000 words done a day, or you might get eight. It does not make you any less or more of a writer.
The next time you are face to face with the villain of time, and it looks like you are going to lose the battle, brandish your sword (pen, computer, quill, pencil etc.) and you will discover that sometimes it is the littlest things that can make the difference.