When I first started writing, I was in junior high. I didn’t realize it, but back then, I had nothing but time. I’ve always been fairly adept at school, and I often completed my homework ahead of schedule. At that time, I had whole days I could have spent writing, if I was so inclined.
Now, as I juggle multiple jobs, I recognize the irony. When I was in junior high, I had all the time and none of the motivation. I am now moving into the second half of my twenties, and while the motivation is there, free time has become a rarer commodity. After years of taking my writing time for granted, I’ve had to start learning the vital skill of time management.
Every profession involves a balancing act of responsibilities, commitments, and social interaction. I have discovered, to my dismay, that writing is no different. When I was a kid, I imagined that being an author would mainly involve sitting in a wood-paneled study or under a willow tree and dreaming up new adventures to send my characters on. Adult Me has realized that this is not the case. Most authors have to hold multiple jobs in order to make ends meet. They write in the odd moments when they are not out in the world making a living. Even those few lucky authors who manage to carve out a full-time career are forced to divide their time between writing, attending conferences, networking, reaching out to publishers, and giving book talks.
If you want to succeed as an author with your sanity intact, you need to learn how to properly manage your time. You cannot hold off on writing until you have an entire afternoon free; you’ll get nothing done. Instead, you must take advantage of the small moments between your daily responsibilities. I’ve taken to carrying a small notebook everywhere with me, just in case a poem springs to mind in the lull between classes or on the ride to church. (This is one of the reasons I love being a passenger in a car; it frees my attention in case I am suddenly hit with an idea.)
In fact, I am currently writing this very post in the middle of a study hall. Bit by bit, I’m learning to capitalize on my time, making the most of every opportunity instead of waiting for the perfect moment to write. It’s a constant juggling act, but well worth the trouble. When all else fails, I recite the final lines of “The Clock of Man”:
“Count not, waste not the years on the clock.
Behold I stand at the door and knock.” -Eric Lomax