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Finding Time to Write... are you freaking kidding me?

I get this question a lot and it’s usually framed in some kind of 

exaggerated, emotional voice and expression.

Every writer experiences this eventually. 

Life gets in the way. Kids, work, things to do around the house, spending time with your partner or just fatigue or fear of failure. When you’re an aspiring writer there is nothing harder than finding time to actually write.

Let me give you an example of what I used to go through. I worked in sales for a major corporation that demanded long hours. On top of that my territory expanded from a small area in Washington State to adding the entire state of Montana. You want to talk about managing your time? Try setting up a week of sales calls over the phone to Montana, remembering to leave enough time to cover travel time from cities that were separated by hundreds of miles.

Now add air travel, dealing with airport lineups, rental cars, multiple hotel reservations and a mind-numbing amount of driving. And this was back before smart phones existed. All I had was my laptop and my Samsung flip phone. It was a logistical nightmare and a complete time drain. I would average 4-5 sales calls a day and each meeting took anywhere from a half hour to an hour and a half which could wreak havoc on your schedule. So, I would work myself across the state in my rental car. Starting in Missoula and working my way down through Butte and over to Bozeman and then to Billings. Then I would my back around to Great Falls, Helena and the up to Kalispell. All in a week. It was an exhausting schedule that left me arriving late in the evening in whatever city I was staying the night in that night. I got in tired, aching and mentally spent.

So, how after going through that every day, could I find the energy or the time to write? It was simple. I would go and work out. 

I know that sounds crazy. You’re exhausted and beaten up. Why in God’s name would want to go work out? I didn’t. But I knew I needed to because it would wake me and invigorate me. I would eat a light dinner and then start writing while I relaxed with a couple of drinks.

My first and only hard rule of writing was finish at least 4 to 5 pages per night. This was specific to writing novels or screenplays as opposed to short stories, but the rules for short stories were basically the same. Usually, I would end up writing much more than that because once I got back into the story everything would just flow. Which brings me to problem number two:

Anybody who has ever written knows this problem. There is nothing more intimidating than sitting in front of a blank page. Writing is the art of creating something from nothing, or as I like to refer to it, “making shit up.” There are no rules in writing. There are rules in how you format and present your writing like which tense you’re going to use, first or third person, spacing, paragraphs, etc. But there are no rules to the actual writing.

That’s where the “making shit up” part comes in to play. It’s the most exciting and thrilling part of being a writer, but it’s also the scariest. And a good writer must face those fears every day because a good writer is always writing. That’s what makes it hard. But the hard is what makes it good.

Now you made the time to write. The rest is up to your imagination.

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