There is no more universal excuse in the modern world than I don’t have time. There are a hundred ways to say it, but it comes down to the simply I’m to busy excuse. And in all but the most extreme cases it’s simply not true. People have time for their priorities. What they really mean is that I have other things I would rather be doing. That perfectly fine in many cases, but if you want to be a writer then you have to find a way to make time because while I’ll defend anyone who puts words to paper in some format or another as a writer if you don’t actually type something you’re not a writer you just like the idea of being a writer.
I can already hear people saying that I really don’t have time. If you’re in a military boot camp, in a doctoral residence that keeps you working 18 hours a day or some similarly demanding situation then you can excuse yourself for the moment, but even then in most cases it’s a short term determent and if you’ve been using the excuse for more than a few weeks you’re lying to yourself. You can make the time if you want to.
Step one is to understand that your writing is important because you’re important. It is acceptable and important for you to take time for yourself. Your kids, spouse and friends will understand that, but only if you do. Treat your writing as unimportant and so will they. That means scheduling time to work and treating it like work. Enjoyable work, but still work.
Next you need to understand that you don’t need a lot of time. Pick up a notebook or get a word processor for your phone and begin to take notes when you have downtime during the day or take the write your novel on your phone in those down times. It has been done. And you do have those downtimes. The odds are no one will notice if you write a few things down during the long office meeting, your kid won’t see you taking notes during halftime at his basketball game and no one is going to see you in the bathroom. There are plenty of other times as well. Stuck on hold, it’s the perfect time to grab your notebook and write. This is after all important to you so do it.
You’ll still need some time at the computer in most cases and you’re too busy for that, right? No. You have a priorities issue. You get time off work every year right? How about instead of visiting the beach you find someplace quite and lock yourself away. Plenty of writers do this including a number of well known authors. They lock themselves away for a week and write the first draft of their novel. And since you’ve been taking notes and working out the story in the spare minutes you can do that.
The other option is to do a very small amount every day. Writing just 100 words a day will let you write 36000 words in a year and you can even take off Christmas, Thanksgiving, your birthday and two other random days. And once you’re used to that you’ll discover 100 words won’t take you anytime at all. It’s only one or two paragraphs and once you’ve decided to do it and really focus it shouldn’t be more than fifteen minutes a day. Though in most cases I think you’ll find you spend more time doing it once you make the decision even though you didn’t have the time before.
We all have busy lives but writers make time for writing. Stephen King wrote Carrie while teaching English, J.K. Rowling is a single mother who wrote in cafes because taking her baby for a walk helped her fall asleep. Countless other less well known authors have kept jobs long after being published and continue to put out more work. The question isn’t whether you’re busy it’s what your priorities are. If you care about something you’ll make time for it and if you don’t care it’s better to admit it and move on.