I fell in love with Nike’s slogan the first time I saw it.
I’d just joined a large, slow-moving company and was going nuts. It felt like my colleagues were eagerly and energetically looking for any and every excuse to NOT do something. Especially if it was difficult.
On these pages and others, I frequently hear the woeful cry … but I don’t have time to write. Raise your hand if you’re among them. And by writing, I think you mean a specific passion. Maybe you are writing marketing copy, technical manuals or obituaries for your hometown newspaper but your passion is to write a children’s book, young adult fiction, a novel or magazine articles.
Innocently or not so innocently, I’d like to suggest that you just do it. Forget about time. There will never be enough time. Instead of putting your writing on hold until your youngest child enters kindergarten in three years or you retire in 2035, ask yourself a few questions.
Is Writing Important to you?
Can I hear you shouting? Are you telling me – of course it is (you idiot)! It’s all I want to do. All I ever wanted to do. It’s who I am!
Okay then, so …
Maybe you were writing, at least sporadically, and now you’re not or you’re having a horrendous time making progress. Maybe you’re cursing me right now and calling me a useless twit because the reason is obvious. Don’t I know that:
• You just had a baby? Or you just had another baby?
• Or your tween or teen is going through a difficult time?
• Or your mother was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s?
• Or layoffs have turned your nine-to-five into a seven-to-seven?
• Or _________________________________ (you fill in the blank).
Then again, a few of you might answer – my wonderful spouse loves his/her job, just got a fabulous promotion with more money so I quit my job but I still don’t have time to write. Hmmmm.
Or after writing your memoir in your head for a decade or two, you retired with plans to make it happen. But you are still writing it in your head. You still don’t have to write. Again, hmmmm.
And finally, some will sigh loudly or wistfully because they have never had enough time, not now, not never.
While it might seem redundant, the next question is …
What Prevents You from Writing?
If writing is your passion, you should be writing. So why aren’t you? I don’t want the obvious or easy answer (I just had a baby, etc.). Instead, I ask you to dig down and take a hard look at this time thing. (Unless there is something else and you’re ready to own up to it.)
So … how much time do you spend on FaceBook and/or Twitter? Guess what? I spend more time on FaceBook on days when I have something I don’t really want to do, like mow the lawn.
How much time do you spend blogging? Has writing, reading and commenting on blogs become a full-time/almost full-time unpaid job?
And here’s a dicey question … how much time do you spend making cupcakes for the class Halloween party, running the Boy Scout Christmas tree sale and/or chaperoning class trips and school dances? I applaud you but on a scale of one to ten, where does being Super Mom or Dad fit versus writing? If writing is your passion and you’re not, is being Super Parent your Super Passion? Your children will not disown you and you will not burn in hell if you don’t make cookies for the bake sale and miss a soccer game, even two. If it helps, neither of my parents were SP’s but both were wonderful and still are.
Another tough one … are you willing to take a new job with fewer hours and, most likely, less money if it means you’ll have more time to write?
Now I’ll throw caution to the wind and ask … can your spouse, parent, sibling, cousin, friend or neighbor lend a hand with your kids or elderly parent to free up some of your time to write. Before you say no, have you asked them? Can you afford to hire someone to help you? Before you say no, can you afford not to?
I ask these questions because, maybe, just maybe time isn’t the issue. Or at least not the only issue. So ask yourself again and a third, maybe a fourth or fifth time, what prevents you from writing?
Writing is hard and takes more than passion. It takes discipline and dedication. It takes confidence and courage. Writers write. It doesn’t matter that it’s scary or presumptuous to think they can succeed, they write. They make it a priority. They don’t talk about writing. They don’t write about not writing. They throw caution to the wind and just do it.
So okay it’s scary, it’s presumptuous but why not, you know, just do it? What’s the worst that can happen?
As writers we put ourselves out there and, unlike in the movies, failure is an option. Big deal. You write, rewrite and finally finish your book or pitch your article. You look for a publisher. You get turned down. The earth is still spinning. The sun will still rise and set.
You write another. It’s better. You find an agent or editor who believes in you and helps you. You rewrite or write another one. It gets published. Maybe it sells well, maybe it doesn’t. You write another one. Writing is really hard work but if you truly love it, if it is truly your passion, you’ll keep at it and you’ll get better. So good you might just succeed.