I hear a lot of things when I tell people I’m an author. There’s the usual “What kind of books do you write?”, the ever popular, “Do you make a living doing that?” and another one of my favourites, “Anything I might have heard of?”*, but there’s also a lot of “I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I can’t do that” or “I don’t have time to do what you do.”
As always, I want to make it clear that while I’m using writing as my experience and example, I believe the following applies to all kinds of artistic expression:
Yes you can, and yes you do.
There is really only one rule to completing that story you’ve always wanted to tell: butt in chair.**
It’s justa matter of putting down one word at a time, which leads to one sentence, paragraph, page, and eventually a final story at the end. It can be difficult to keep yourself motivated, absolutely, but that’s not a problem of can’t, it’s only an issue of learning how.
Discipline/motivation is a skill, and it’s one that needs to be strengthened over time using whatever strategy works best for you. Rewards, breaking big tasks down into bite-size ones, to-do lists, asking someone to hold you accountable. Try them all, change things when they don’t work, but keep going.
And once you’re invested in the project, finding the time won’t be a problem.
I recently started a short-term government contract (I really needed to get out of the house and talk to someone who wasn’t my cat), which meant a complete overhaul of my work schedule, reverting back to my previous full-time work system.
Has it been a challenge? Absolutely.
Have some things been pushed back or ignored on the to-do list longer than they otherwise would have? Oh man, have they ever.
But the important stuff is still getting done. I carve out the time. My family knows and understands that just because I also have a 37.5 hour work-week for a few months, writing is still my priority.
Between 4:45 – 7:30am, I’m at my desk getting in words, or editing, or updating my website. Lunch hours are partially spent replying to business emails. After work, I take a bit of time to prioritize my tasks for tomorrow.
It’s not easy, but because it matters so much to me, I make it possible.
So the next time you’re struck with the desire to tell your story in whatever form best suits you, stop shooting yourself in the foot before you even begin. Stop discouraging yourself and putting yourself down. You are absolutely capable holding that finished project in your hands, whether it takes you a week or three years. I encourage you to do it, because your story is one that has never been told before. Even if you think it is, no one has told it the way you could.
Put any believe that capability or time is what’s holding you back and ask yourself the only question that matters: how badly do I want this?
Have you recently decided to tackle the project you’ve been putting off? Let me know in the comments!
*because this one never leads to awkwardness. Ever.
**figuratively or literally, depending on your preferred set-up or method. With dictation, sit-stand desks, treadmill desks, or the classic “working at the kitchen counter”, chairs are really not a requirement.