Amid work, relationships, community service, and everything else I have to or want to do, writing and reading get lost more often than I’d like. Sure, I write every day — I am a professional writer — but my creative writing tends to take a back seat to everything else I have to or want to do.
This isn’t because I’m not passionate about writing. It’s largely because a) I’m still learning that prioritizing my creative efforts isn’t inherently selfish and b) I’m terrible at time management. I’m getting better, so here’s some of what I’ve learned about making time to read and write regularly.
- Target Your Keystone Habit
If you want to accomplish your goals, you need a strong foundation. In Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin identifies seven key areas that most people want to improve in. These areas are nutrition, exercise, rest and relaxation, productivity, finances, simplification and cleaning, and relationships.
If you reflect on why you aren’t writing or doing whatever else you want to do, you may find that a lot of your problems come from poor habits in one of these core areas.
For example, I am terrible at getting enough sleep. When I don’t get adequate sleep, then all my other habits fall apart like an archway without a keystone. I sleep through all my alarms, am late for work, don’t study the scriptures in the morning, and don’t get the morning smoothie I rely on for a lot of my nutrients.
On the other hand, when I sleep well and extensively, I find that my nutrition, workouts, scripture study, relaxation, and relationships all improve. I can actually fit writing into my schedule.
- Block Out “Me Time”
Whoever you are, you need some time to do things you’re passionate about. “Your passion” is a loaded phrase, but for the purposes of this post, we’ll say that a passion is something that you kind of have to do. If you don’t take time for your passion, then your mind will probably find some other way to meet its needs.
For example, I like to read, write, and learn things. My passion allows me to improve myself, utilize my imagination, and channel my ideas and feelings into something constructive. Could I physically restrain myself from reading, writing, and learning? I could. But doing so is counter-productive.
I can’t stop my brain from looping through my unexpressed thoughts, possibly keeping me from sleeping. And if I constantly resist the pull of what I want, then my self-control will weaken until I find myself on a vain search for creative fulfillment via Buzzfeed quizzes and irrelevant internet articles. In the end, I’ll waste hours with nothing to show for them.
I’m much more prone to go to bed on time if I’ve taken half an hour every work night during which I write in my journal and read, all by my introvert self. I love this time.
- Clarify and Explore Your Interests
You’ve probably heard the “follow your passion” advice. And one of the many issues with this advice is the difficulty of figuring out what your passion is. Sometimes you love the idea of something but don’t like doing the thing.
Sometimes, you don’t make time for the things you say you love because you don’t really want to. And even within a broad passion, you may need to clarify what you want and why you do what you do.
As I said before, I love writing, reading, and learning. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m passionate about blogging itself. I started this blog mainly because I need it for marketing purposes. Blogging is a support for my other writing and editing.
To make the time I spend blogging worthwhile, I need to draw on my other interests and look at writing from a different angle. When I started my website, I didn’t think I wanted to blog about just self-improvement, but now that I’ve written a couple of posts, I know I want my blog to be about self-improvement for writers, editors, and other nerds. Some people might be bored by that angle, but it’s one that keeps me engaged.
What about you? What habits do you need to establish and clarify in order to get your writing time in?