Time to Write

A friend of mine recently asked for advice on finding time to blog – on taking the ideas that percolate around in your head and actually getting them down on (virtual) paper.

It’s possible that I’m not the best person to respond to this question – I have been writing most of my life, and I journaled daily long before I took to a more public medium. So it does take me time to write, but it doesn’t take me that much time.

I typically spend 30 minutes to an hour on each post. Sometimes longer – particularly if my writing is punctuated by interruptions from other parts of my life. Which is always. (I’ve already walked away from this post three times, and I’m hardly three paragraphs in!)

More broadly, though, I find the issue of “time” to be a red herring.

That is, “I don’t have time,” is often a cover – at least for me – for other issues. Sometimes it simply means, “I don’t have time…because I am prioritizing other things.”

But for me the issue with writing is different. I love to write. I am happy to find time for it and to prioritize it in my life. And yet for years I told myself that I didn’t have time to write publicly.

For me, I’d say, there are two things that are hard about blogging.

The first is what I called the ego of public life in my inaugural post. Acting publicly – speaking publicly, writing publicly, existing in any way within the public sphere – takes agency. It’s not only feeling like you have something to say, but…feeling like you have a right to say it.

Like there’s a value to saying it.

A lot of people don’t have that. I know I didn’t.

There’s no reason to make time for an activity that has no value.

The second challenge is that blogging, as I’ve taken to saying, requires a willingness to be imperfect in public.

Writing is such a personal act. It’s a quiet art that bears your soul and tries to express it through a powerful, but ultimately imperfect, means.

I’ve been a prolific writer throughout my life, but until recently, I shared relatively little of that writing with others. When I did share a piece, it was only those few which I had worked on extensively – which I had written and rewritten until I felt they truly conveyed what I was trying to say.

There’s no luxury to do that when it comes to blogging.

Then you really won’t have the time. You can’t spend whole days on one post when you’ve got other things to do in life. You have to just write what comes out and hope for the best.

In the nearly two years I’ve been blogging, I’ve written a few posts that I’m really proud of, and I’ve written a fair number of posts that that I’m not too terribly embarrassed by. But I’ve also written a lot of posts scraped together from reused text or other things I’ve stumbled across.

A lot of days are just mediocre, but…I’d rather accept those days than miss out on the good ones.

That’s really hard to do. It’s really hard to not put your best foot forward, to do what you can and accept whatever comes out. It’s hard to be imperfect in public.

Those may be my own challenges. I imagine other people have issues of their own.

So I guess my advice to anyone wondering how to find the “time to write” is this –

Make a commitment to how often you will write and stick with it. No matter how you feel about the writing, stick to your commitment.

And spend some time thinking to yourself – what does it mean to not have the time? What are you prioritizing instead? What ideas or concerns about the process give you pause?

Figure out why you don’t have the time…then get over it.

(Or not. You know, whatever you’re in to. I won’t judge.)

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