By Alissa Johnson
Have you noticed how writers like to talk about time? As in, I just don't have enough time to write. Or I can't wait until I have more time—then I'm going to write. Or I really need to make use of the time I have.
Time is a precious commodity. But I've been coaching writers long enough to know that, most often, our fascination with it is a distraction and a smokescreen.
Now don't get me wrong. I know you're busy and have a lot going on. It's why boundaries are such an important part of writing—to safeguard the time you have.
But when I talk to writers about time, we inevitably end up talking about the real reason they're not writing: the pressure they feel when they sit down to write.
- They need to find the right place to begin, and they're not sure what that place might be.
- Their vision for their writing is so clear, but the quality of their rough draft falls short. They don't want to face that inadequacy.
- The prospect of writing an entire book feels nothing short of daunting.
- If they're going to devote part of their day to writing, they had better make good use of that time.
If you can relate, then I'm sure you can add to the list. I know I can—some days, these kinds of worries just happen.
I've learned, however, that they don't come from the voice of reason. Instead, they tend to crop up when I'm expecting too much from my writing. When I lose sight of the real task at hand.
For example, what if sitting down to write isn't about finding the right place to begin but creating momentum?
You can change anything you create, but you can't revise writing that doesn't exist.
What if you can shape a rough draft into something beautiful over time, but a first draft serves one purpose and one purpose only?
To get that idea out of your head so you can see what you have to work with.
Once writers learn to ease their expectations, they stop worrying about time. You might do the same, sitting down for the 20 minutes you have instead of worrying that it's not enough. Using that free day once it actually arrives.
Here are some easy prompts to see if your expectations have gotten out of check:
- I'm expecting myself to...
- That feels like too much because...
- It would be more fun to...
Pay particular attention to that last one. So often, we worry about what we should do instead of following our energy where it leads! And why are we here if not to enjoy the process of writing?
Let me know what you find in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook. I'd love to hear what messages you say to yourself about time or what expectations you uncover.