Finding time is to write is hard
Struggling to carve out the time to sit down and write? The nine to five. Overnights. Picking up the kids from this and that. Something is always getting in the way — coming up at the last second.
Maybe the problem isn’t finding time, it’s finding space. A quiet area, away from it all where you can sit and think. Or, maybe you prefer to write outdoors, surrounded by natural inspiration, but have been cooped up inside all winter.
That’s not why you aren’t writing.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not discrediting the challenges involved with finding the time to write. Nor am I discrediting the value of a nice, quiet (if that’s your thing) place to do your thinking. They’re nice to have.
But they’re only that: nice-to-haves.
You might not do your best work cramped up in a basement, at the dinner table, or with Netflix droning on in the background. But, being a writer isn’t about doing your best work all the time. You’ll almost certainly need to write some of your worst work, long before you are even capable of your best work. That’s how writing — or anything, for that matter — goes. You’ll draft a few good pieces, maybe a great one that gets published, or even two, but those pieces will almost undoubtedly be preceded by a long line of utter shit. Unfinished drafts. Published work that you wish wasn’t. And probably a handful of great ideas that didn’t quite live up to their potential.
That great piece that you’re going to write, the one you see in your mind’s eye when you picture yourself as a writer, won’t be your first kick at the can. Not by a long shot. You’ll probably write hundreds, maybe thousands, of different pieces before you have accumulated the skills necessary to tackle that moonshot project.
Waiting for the perfect moment is a sure path to failure.
So, how do you go from writing aimlessly, with no end in sight, to writing great pieces? Keep writing aimlessly.
Write whenever you can. About whatever you can. If you don’t have time for a chapter, start a paragraph. Still no time? Break it down in bullet points. Progress is progress. All literature is written the same way it is read. One word at a time.
Over time, the bullet points will be enough to start forming paragraphs, and eventually, chapters. Your prose will improve. Your stories, and the way you tell them will too. You’ll need fewer drafts.
Put the work in now. It’s the only way to ensure you’ll actually be prepared when that quiet long weekend you kept clear for writing finally rolls around. If you’re always waiting for that perfect moment, when you get it, you won’t be half as ready to seize the opportunity as you could have been.
Soon, your evening scribbles, written on the couch, or cramped into that dingy corner of the basement where you finally found some peace and quiet, won’t be so bad. Hell, they might even be pretty great.