“I Don’t Have Time” is No Excuse

There can be no honest discussion on the fear of writing that doesn’t, somewhere, include this line:

Fear is the issue. “I don’t have time,” is just an excuse.

I have been dancing around this statement on this blog since August. In hindsight I should have just come out and said it sooner, but a writer is nothing if not willing to revise, so I’ll take this chance to make sure the following is clear (just in case it wasn’t already):

If you want to be a serious writer, you must stop using the false excuse of time.

It’s not that I don’t believe that you’re busy. I’m busy, too. Everyone’s busy. But when life get rough, most of us can still squeeze in enough time to do the things that are most important to us.

I have been known to complain that I just don’t have the time for writing. But I always find the time to go out to dinner with my husband, for example. And occasionally, I find a few hours during the day to take a nap, or unwind with a Friends rerun.

And those other things are important, too (although I can see why you’d be skeptical about Friends). I work hard all day, and I need some time to recharge. And I especially need to spend time with my husband, as well as other friends and family. Certainly, no one is suggesting that I forego all human relationships to be successful writer… although I’m sure there are plenty of famous writers that have gone that direction.

But there comes a time when “me time” becomes “wasted time,” and that’s a line I cross often.

This morning, I got up early to go to the eye doctor. In little while, I’m heading out to meet a friend at the mall. Now, between the doctor’s appointment and shopping, I have about an hour to kill. It’s Saturday morning and I’m feeling lazy, so all I really want to do is waste time on Facebook or lie in bed and watch last week’s Top Chef. And in the past, that’s exactly what I would have done.

“I don’t have time to write right now,” I would have told myself firmly. “By the time I sit down, think of an idea, get my thoughts together, etc., I’ll have only about a half hour left to write—and that’s not going to be enough! No, I’ll go watch TV, and I’ll wait until later tonight when I have two or three hours free.”

“Tonight” always brings with it new plans, of course. So the coveted 2–3 hours for writing would have to wait until the next day.

I have learned, in the last year, that I must choose to make the time for writing. That’s why I sit here now, with only about fifteen minutes, pounding out as many words as I can before I have to rush out the door. This article won’t be done by the time I leave. Certainly, it will need some revision, some final polishing. I’ll have to make time for that later on, too.

But I’m choosing to write, choosing to put my focus on something other than Facebook or television.

Many people are even busier than I. They work longer hours, have several children, spend more time taking care of their home, etc. I’m not looking to belittle all the things they must cram into an already packed day.

But we always manage to find time for the things that are most important us. If you want to exercise, you will exercise. If it’s crucial that you enjoy a movie every Friday night with your spouse, that’s just what you’re going to do.

It all boils down to two choices. Either put writing up there with your other priorities, or accept once and for all that writing will always be a “nice to-do” rather than a “must do.” Pick one, then move on with your life, fill your time with the things that are most important to you, and don’t waste one more moment feeling bad that you aren’t writing.

If you’ve taken choice number two, good luck to you. I hope you’ll still stop by this blog time to time.

But for you choice number one people, remember:

The excuses end now.

Writer and educator Sara Goas is a graduate of Lycoming College, and she specializes in creating content for the web. Her site saragoas.com has more examples of her work.


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