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I’m working on my annual review at present, reviewing 2010 and setting priorities for 2011. A consistent theme for me is about finding time to write. I work full-time in a very busy leadership role in the vocational education sector. I am passionate about my work and making a difference. At the same time, I am committed to creativity, writing and my personal goals. Making the time and space to write is a constant challenge.

Here are some gems I’ve come across recently, and in the past, about making time to write and basically getting on with it.

Anne Lamott’s article, Time Lost and Found, hit me pretty hard mainly because it rang so true. It’s about priorities in life, what matters and how we fritter away time and miss the important things. Her main message is that you need to make time for writing and other priorities and that this time can be found by having a good look at how you live. Twitter and other social media, television, cleaning, work and the gym are mentioned as areas where we might be losing time that we could allocate to our creative priorities such as writing. Anne says, in essence, that we do have this precious time and we can find it, though it might take some work to recover:

I’ve heard it said that every day you need half an hour of quiet time for yourself, or your Self, unless you’re incredibly busy and stressed, in which case you need an hour. I promise you, it is there. Fight tooth and nail to find time, to make it. It is our true wealth, this moment, this hour, this day.

An excellent article in last weekend’s Sydney Morning Herald Spectrum (January 22-23) by Australian author and teacher, Sue Woolfe, encourages us just to get on with it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the article online anywhere to link to but I can share the main points. Entitled,  ‘Don’t think about it – just keep scribbling’, Sue says that the way you need to work to write a novel is:

…to find a way of thinking that is mocked in our culture but that is all in the day’s work for artists, composers and writers.

This is a way based on discipline: reading fiction for an hour a day; writing for at least an hour a day; not rereading, editing or formulating and not sticking to a subject, character or plot when first writing. The whole focus is the discipline of writing and then later imposing other aspects such as narrative technique, plot structure and editing. In summary:

The whole endeavour is to lose self-consciousness.

However, it starts with those two fundamental ingredients: read fiction for an hour a day and write for at least an hour a day. Linking back to Anne Lamott’s article, the trick is to find this time by managing your priorities.

Some of my favourite practical articles on making time to write are by Australian blogger and author, Joanna Penn. Joanna lives and breathes this way of working and writing to come up with real outcomes such as completing her first novel, Pentecost and receiving a strong following and awards for her highly successful blog, The Creative Penn.

Joanna’s two posts: ‘On efficiency or how to get everything done as a multi-tasking writer,’ and ‘What will you give up to write your book?’ are perfect reads on the issue of writing and time and are grounded in practicality. Joanna’s tips include getting rid of the TV, sleeping less, maximising travel time, being organised and investing in education. Setting clear goals and priorities and ‘loving the process’ are also right up there as key motivators. 

As in Anne Lamott’s article, the emphasis is on the value of the outcomes spent on writing and other creative activities vs spending too much watching TV and engaging in an uncontrolled way with social media such as twitter. And as in Sue Woolfe’s article, the discipline to carry it all through is critical.

Now it’s back to my annual review with these valuable thoughts in mind. How are you making time to write this year?

Image, Time disappears by jtravism  from flickr and used under a Creative Commons license with thanks

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