If you’re like a lot of writers, you might find that there is a gap between how important writing is to you and the amount of time you spend on it.
Most people who consider themselves writers or authors place a massive amount of importance on their craft. Writing is often our highest form of self-expression and the most meaningful way we have to express ourselves.
With that in mind, why do we dedicate so little time to it?
For too many of us, writing is something we ‘should’ do rather than something we carve out the time to do no matter what.
That’s a shame. The world needs more good writing. You’re also likely to be a lot happier and more fulfilled if you’re spending your time in a way that’s aligned with your deepest priorities.
Thankfully, it’s within your power to change. Read on to discover some proven ways of making writing the priority it deserves to be in your life.
Honestly evaluate your schedule
One of the most common reasons for not spending enough time writing is the excuse of a lack of time.
There’s no denying that modern life is busy and our schedules are often full.
But, in all honesty, it’s often not a lack of time exactly that’s the issue.
Moreso, it’s a failure to track how we spend our time and allocate it to the things that matter most, such as writing.
If you’re not disciplined about how you spend your time there are endless distractions that will eagerly devour it for you.
If you’ve ever opened social media only to find yourself scrolling mindlessly half an hour later, or decided to watch one episode of a Netflix show only to be sat their as the season ends many episodes down the line, you’ll know just how true this is.
So what can you do about it?
The first thing is to track your time. This could be for a week or a month. Whatever you need to get a handle on how its spent. You could use an app on your phone for this or go old-school and jot down your activities with pen and paper. Whatever works best for you.
When you do this, you’ll probably be surprised at what you see. If you’re like most people, you’ll find a lot more of your time is spent in suboptimal ways than you expected.
Once you have this clear picture of where your time goes, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Be ruthless but realistic
If you want to claim writing is one of your highest priorities, it’s time to give it the respect it deserves. That means an important place in your schedule.
The only question is, what are you prepared to give up?
Some writers choose to go to bed an hour earlier so they can get up each day and write for an hour.
Others choose to strictly limit their leisure time to an hour a day, for example, reallocating the time gained to writing projects.
It’s important to strike a balance here.
Yes, you want to give as much of your time to writing as you feel is useful. But, at the same time, you need to avoid setting unrealistic expectations that you can’t meet and end up abandoning all together.
For example, cutting back on sleep is not a long-tern plan. You’ll end up feeling burned out and mentally drained – two states not conducive to good writing.
Also, you might not want to write each day of the week. Taking a day or two off is absolutely fine, as long as you stick to just those days.
Striking the right balance is a process of trial and error. Experiment and find a schedule that works for you.
If you need a guideline, 1-2 hours five times a week is a great starting point for a lot of writers.
Focus on the benefits of writing
It’s all well and good devising a writing schedule. Sticking to it can be far harder.
Your mindset is absolutely crucial here. It’s vital to focus on the benefits of writing and how much you value it. Don’t see it as a chore. See it as a blessing that you have time to focus on something you love.
Aside from your internal attitude, there are external factors you can optimize to make sure you stick to your schedule.
For example, you can ensure that you always have a cup of your favorite beverage to accompany your writing session. If writing to music works for you, throw on something you enjoy to get your pleasure chemicals flowing.
And if you stick to your writing schedule for a period of time, reward yourself! Smaller rewards might consist of a paperback book, while larger writing goals could be rewarded with a short trip away or luxury item for the home, whatever will give you the most joy.
The hardest part of reallocating your time to writing is the initial stages. Once you form a habit, and reinforce it with positive thinking and action, you’ll be a lot more likely to stick with it in the future.
Surround yourself with the right examples
The people we surround ourselves with have more of an influence on us than we might like to admit.
If you want to make writing a priority in your life, surround yourself with people who are committed to doing the same.
This can be offline as well as online. If you log into Twitter and your feed is full of people talking about crushing their writing goals and getting a lot of joy from doing so, this will become your normality.
Even if people in your life aren’t writers, you want to emphasize them how much it would mean to you if they support and encourage you in meeting your goals. Having the right role models, and people to positively reinforce your goals, is one of the most valuable ways to keep writing as prominent as it should be in your life.
Smartphones and email can be the death of even the best-intentioned writing habit.
You need to be disciplined about protecting yourself from distraction. Otherwise, you run the risk of your writing time never getting into a good flow.
Most smartphones should be able to be set up in a way which blocks all notifications but still allows calls or texts to come through from a select few people.
Similarly, get disciplined about checking your email and social network notifications. For example, you could dedicate 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening to these. Doing so puts you in a place of proactive productivity rather than being reactive to everything that comes your way.
If writing wasn’t one of the most important things in your life you wouldn’t be reading this.
Why not make a conscious decision to start prioritizing it in the way it deserves?
It might just be the best choice you make.