I’m a writer – my first novel will be published soon, the first in a YA high fantasy series. But I’m also a reader and have made it my goal to read 100 books this year. I have a full-time job with an hour-long commute. I have two kids, and they have gymnastics classes and soccer practices. I have two dogs and a cat and a husband that I have to keep alive and give some attention to every now and then. I go to the gym five days a week.
I’m not telling you this to brag. I’m telling you this because it makes sense that people who as me this a lot: “How do you find the time?” Guess what… I don’t. Most of the time, I am Jessie Spano, banging my fists against Zack Morris’ chest and wailing about how excited I am, and I just can’t hide it.
But really, I do a lot, and here’s the answer – I don’t find the time. Time to do these things is not readily available. I don’t have copious amounts of time at my disposal to spend on these things. I make the time. I forgot how to do this for a long time, especially when my kids were babies. I belonged so completely to them that I forgot that I was once a person apart from them with my own likes and desires. Now they’re older, no longer attached at my hip (or at my chest in a sling), and as they become more independent, it has become more important to me to also become independent again. My youngest was 1.5 years old, and my oldest 5, before I finally finally completed a manuscript again (during NaNoWriMo).
But I didn’t find the time to do it. I made it. I wrote this blog post while the kids were in gymnastics. I listen to audiobooks on my commute or while I’m at the gym. I go to the gym during my lunch break at work. I write late at night, when everyone is down for the count and it’s just me and the cat staring at a computer screen.
To make the time, I also had to cut out the things that weren’t truly important to me. I got rid of the distractions. For me it was television. When I started writing The Runaway Queen, I gave up television almost* entirely for a month. And surprisingly, I didn’t miss it. I cleared out my DVR and it was refreshing to free myself from all of those shows. I don’t need to watch reruns of My 600-Pound Life, or every new, hyped up television series. For others, it might be the telephone, or social media. You have to be honest with yourself about what you want and what you have to give up to be able to get it.
I also developed a routine, and while it’s flexible to some extent, it’s what I’ve come to expect, and what my family has come to expect. They know I write at night, and they (for the most part) know that once they’re in bed, that’s it, barring an emergency. That time at night is the only time I have to dedicate to writing, and it is sacred to me. I respect it, and in turn, they have learned to respect it. Just because I’m their mother or his wife doesn’t mean I am at their beck and call 24/7. I love them, but they love me, too.
So when someone says to me, I just don’t have the time to do that, I know it’s not true. You prioritize, you make decisions, you set routines, and you do what’s important to you.
(*The Walking Dead was and remains my one exception.)