It is the struggle of writers everywhere–well, the ones with day jobs, families, and lives anyway. How do you find the time to write? I’ve been looking for that time for 35 years, and from what I can tell I’ll never find it.
The truth is I don’t think anyone ever finds it.
The only time we ever have is the time we make because writing is an activity and time is an abstract concept.
Time is nonexistent even as we mark its passing with clocks and calenders. We talk about lost time or losing time, but time is never lost. We may lose track or forget, but we don’t actually lose time. We miss opportunities by focusing on other things. So because time cannot be lost, neither can it be found. You aren’t just going to happen upon it unexpectedly and miraculously have it be the right time.
Living takes a lot of energy, and does seem to eat up a lot of time. Our time is made up of whatever we deem important at the moment. Some time is dictated by needs like sleep and hunger. I mean, eating and sleeping have to happen if you plan to continue living or your body will give out. That’s a fact. But there is no specific set time of when either of those happens unless you plan it that way. You can wait to sleep until you are so exhausted that you can’t keep your head up and choose to only eat when you are absolutely famished, but those bodily needs aren’t universally standard on some great clock of time.
Each of us has duties and responsibilities we shoulder. These things can take up our focus, and therefore our time. We ascribe intervals and specific allotments of time to perform tasks, but there really is no cosmic law that dictates these times. Time isn’t lording over us withholding, granting, hiding, losing, dropping or doing anything else with time. Whatever time we have is what we make.
So as a writer, if I want to keep thinking of myself as one, I have to make the time to write. Because writing isn’t always deemed a worthy activity by those who don’t have the desire or compulsion this can be a challenge. Writing is work, and when it is paid work, then and only then do I have seeming justification to set aside time for it. Writing is also my therapy and play. When it is either of those then I have to fight a little harder to get my time.
I am a mother, wife, friend, employee, and dozens of other labels that describe various aspects and activities I engage in. I am not limited to any one title, and therefore have to pick and choose what I can do in a day without going insane. Some of who I am and what I do requires my entire focus for the duration of intervals known as time. Anything I want to do for myself, like write, has to be done when I have completed enough tasks and devoted enough attention to others that they recede like the tide giving me the opportunity to write for a space of time, but I can assure you, that time did not magically appear. I had to work for that.
How do you make time? What do you make time for?
*Photo: Solar Powered STAR CLOCK of the Sapporo Station in Sapporo Hokkaido Japan by Arjan Richter, obtained through Flickr.