Thursday, January 17, 2008

Make the Time to Write

From H. Jackson Brown, author of Life’s Little Instruction Book: “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”

When I had a day job and writing was strictly my passion instead of my work, I fantasized about what life would be like as a full-time writer. We all know this scene, right? The afternoons at the coffee shop, the blissful hours of contemplation and reading. Uninterrupted hours of time would replace the constant struggle to find enough time after work, dinner, homework, housework, a husband, a kid, and life in general. Then I made the leap into freelance writing and found that it was like moving to your favorite vacation city. I no longer had time to do all the fun stuff I had visualized in my happy little writing fantasy. Suddenly, I was writing all day, but it wasn’t the paradise I had envisioned. I didn’t always have control of what topics I wrote on, or even when I worked (deadlines do not care about holidays or weekends). I enjoyed everything I was doing, but my days were often filled with research, interviews, and clients. I faced an odd situation: I was a full-time writer, but I still felt I didn’t have enough time to write.

My to-do list remains long, but I do my best to keep things in perspective with this quote. It inspires me to turn off the TV, and helps me think about my priorities. It’s hard to sit down at the computer at 9:00, just when Larry King is coming on and my mind is shifting into low gear. It’s all too easy to fall asleep on the sofa, laptop on but unused, CNN turned down to allow dozing. Is this a waste of time, or a necessary break at the end of the day? I ask myself that question constantly. I’m not unraveling the space and time continuum, or creating timeless masterpieces of artwork, or tending to the sick and poor. I’m just a writer. But everything, on whatever scale, requires time and attention. We have to make the time to write; if we wait to find the time, we’ll always be searching.

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