I hear you. There’s no time to write. Job. Kids. Cook dinner. Garden. Walk dog (or play with cat). Dishes. Laundry. Drive kids to hockey / dance / theatre / do kids paper route because it seemed like a good idea months ago. Go to work. Then all the other optional things: play piano; run chicken barn; paint; sing songs; construct glorious garage / workshop & orchard (that would be me); pick up dirty socks (all of us). Job (again!). Stop.
What if I suggest it is not about lack of time, but lack of sufficient motivation?
Hold on – don’t get defensive. I wrote, sufficient, not NO motivation. If you had no motivation, you wouldn’t be reading this blog now.
Let me demonstrate. What if I told you there would be hidden in a garden tomorrow morning $1000 dollars (in cash and tax free). All it would take is about twenty minutes of your time and you would find the cash. But you only had one day to find the money; otherwise, it would be gone.
Who would not somehow squeeze the twenty minutes from their busy scheduled day to find the money?
Personally, I would wake up an hour early to find the money. It wouldn’t matter the other things in my life; I would be awake and ready to search. Most of us can likely find twenty minutes in a day to spare, if the motivation is high enough.
What if I changed the above scenario and to find the $1000, you had to search your yard for twenty minutes a day, each day for 1 week and on one of those days, you would find the $1000. You can’t miss a day because that might be the day you find the money. Would you still find the time every day to search for those twenty minutes for one week?
The difficulty is that writing a novel is not like finding a $1000 a day or a week in the garden. Writing a novel is like searching for years and years every single day and maybe never finding any money.
Think of athletes who must practice every day. They run in the rain. They enter the gym before the rest of the world wakes. They do it because they love the game; they ache for the reward at the end of track or maybe for the adrenaline rush.
We all wish for more time to write and I cherish those wonderful writing retreat weekends when I can immerse myself in writing and my novel. But I wanted to find a way to write regularly in-between those events. So I challenged myself this past month.
Every day, I imagined an award hidden in my garden.
I only needed twenty minutes to search. If I thought to myself, I’m tired and I don’t feel like I have enough time, I asked myself why I wasn’t motivated that day. I love writing and crafting my novel. I love writing on rainy early mornings. I love reading about writing and how to improve my writing. I even love editing. I reminded myself why I am doing this and focused on my motivation, not on the time. Every day I found time and wrote.
I stopped making the excuses. Some days, I spent my twenty minutes doing research or working on a character sketch. Other days, I edited. Sometimes I would read a book about the craft of writing and take notes on how to apply to my current novel. And on other evenings, I wrote new scenes. One day, I wrote this blog. Whatever I did, I always managed to find the time to work on the writing craft; and often the twenty minutes stretched to an hour.
I challenge you. Stop thinking about time.
Change the question: find what motivates you and ask yourself why you may be lacking sufficient motivation to write twenty minutes on this day. What will make you wake up twenty minutes early to type your words? Or stay awake a few extra minutes at the end of the day?
When you change the question from where’s the time to where’s my motivation, the solution changes. You may realized that you’re not writing because you don’t know the next plot point, or don’t know your characters or you don’t know how to write the next scene or maybe your novel doesn’t excite you anymore. You may think that it takes too much time to get yourself back “into” your novel so twenty minutes in not enough. (Hint: this was one of my favourite excuses but if you write every day, you don’t need that “time” to get into your story; it will be fresh in your mind). Now you have something solid to focus on and the solution to these issues are different than trying to find more time in your day to write.
I challenge you for the next month to think about what motivates you to write, not about lack of time. Hidden in an imaginary garden of your mind is your novel. Continue to search every day for it by writing every single day.