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If only I had the time . . .

time running outMany years ago, I bought the book Madeleine L’Engle {Herself}, Reflections on a Writing Life, compiled by Carole F. Chase. What Ms. Chase did was (from the front jacket blurb) put together hundreds of L’Engle’s most illuminating statements about writing, creativity, and the writing life, including material from L’Engle’s workshops and speeches that have never been published before. In the book, L’Engle talked about time, as in making time to write.

She tells us that women who have chosen to have families as well as careers find there’s never enough time to do everything that needs to be done in a day. Yet we must somehow find the time, and in order to do that, a certain amount of determination and stubbornness is essential.

That is as true today as it ever was. There’s never enough time, yet somehow – if we want to write, or do anything else – we must sandwich it in somewhere. Years ago, a dear friend and writing buddy was lamenting the fact that she had to work as a legal secretary to support herself (she was divorced) and that she was always so tired when she got home, she never seemed to be able to find enough time to write. I told her then something that I tell myself all the time, but it bears repeating again and again and again (it’s that important): we always find the time to do the things that are important to us. Actually, we don’t find the time, we make the time.

So — if writing is important to you, something you really want to do, then you’ll find/make the time to do it. NO EXCUSES!

I live by the motto “Seize the day.” And that motto can and should be applied to our writing. We should seize writing time. It’s unproductive to moan and whine about not having enough time to do everything we need to do. Moaning and whining solve nothing. I should know. I’ve done my share.

What is productive is prioritizing. Do it right now. Make a list of the five most important things in your life. If writing is one of them, then writing should always be on your daily to-do list and you should hit your computer any time you have at least half an hour. I actually know someone who wrote anytime she had fifteen free minutes. This person’s day job was as a speech pathologist. I also know someone who had to work a day job as a temp (she hated it, but the bills needed to be paid) and she got up at four o’clock each morning so that she would have two hours a day to write before she had to get ready to go to the hated day job. The speech pathologist published nearly a dozen books, and she’s still writing and publishing. The other person wrote many popular historical romances and hit the NY Times bestseller list before she succumbed to a terminal illness.

When I read what L’Engle had written, I couldn’t help thinking about another good buddy who is also a fabulous writer: Amanda Stevens. When I first met Amanda, she was the mother of year-old twins. She had sold two romantic suspense novels before becoming a mom and she was afraid she’d never again have time to write and sell another. I told her then, and I’ll tell you now, if your children or your grandchildren are needing a lot of your time right now, that will not last forever. They will only be little a short period of time. In fact, that time flies by. Just snatch what time you can, whenever you can, and don’t worry. Your children or grandchildren will grow up, and your time constraints will ease. In Amanda’s case, her twins are now twenty-seven years old, yet it seems like yesterday that we talked about how she’d once again have lots of time to write. Amanda has now written and sold more than 50 novels. Her newest “Graveyard Series” for Mira Publishing has been optioned by a major television network for a series. She’s also doing a new series for Harlequin Teen.

Remember, we always find the time to do the things that are important to us. You might want to print that on a piece of paper, too, in big large letters and tape it by your computer so you’ll see it every single day, because no matter how much we might know something, we tend to forget it.


  • Mary Tate

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Thank you Pat. I SO needed to read this today. I’m printing it so I can see it daily!

  • Vicky Dreiling

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Loved this post and plan to share the link!

  • Cindy Vaughn

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Loved this post Pat. How so true! Thanks, as always, for the motivation!

  • Loralee Lillibridge

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Pat, this post is just what I needed to read today. My priorities have changed the last few years and some days finding time seems impossible. I’ve learned to grab those little pieces of time I used to ignore, because when put together, they eventually count up to a lot of pages. And it’s nice and quiet in the wee hours of the morning, too. Perfect writing time.

  • Christine

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Thanks, Patricia, for a timely reminder! This is so true, but it’s easy to get caught up in the swirl of life. I’m writing down your quote, “I will find time to do the things that are important to me.” That’s a great one to keep handy!

  • Donna Gough

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Great comments, Pat! It’s hard to find time in busy days to write, especially for women with kids or grandkids around. We have so many things to do, so many responsibilities that the days can be very crowded. I remember telling a [male] boss during a particularly busy time at work that I needed a wife to help out at home — the blank, uncomprehending expression on his face after I said that was priceless. (We’re still friends and Facebook pals, but he clearly didn’t understand!)

    I’m one of those who now get up very early before work to write each day — by 5:00 and even by 4:00 sometimes. It’s meant a big change of pattern, since I’ve always been a night owl. But it’s my private writing time now, the only time during the day when I can sit calmly at my laptop, enjoy the silence around me, and simply write and think about my writing. It’s very zen, too, very calming and restorative. I find myself much calmer at work during the day, all because I’ve had a chance to release some creative energy. I know I wouldn’t have made nearly as much progress on my draft without those special hours each day!

  • Patricia Kay

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    I’m so glad this post hit home for so many of you. We women have so many responsibilities and people to care for sometimes we forget to care for ourselves.

  • Betsy Henning

    Posted January 29, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    At this stage of my life I do have the time, and I’m on a quest to use the time well. I’ve already shared your link with my writing group!

  • Lynn Reynolds

    Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Thanks for this important reminder. I am always saying I don’t have enough time to write since I had to take an office job to help with our finances. But of course, there are plenty of stories about writers who wrote bestsellers while coping with careers, small children, or all of the above. You’re right – the real issue is priorities. I suppose this means I’m going to have to spend a lot less time streaming those Netflix videos if I really want to finish that third book 🙂


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