What keeps you from writing? What do you think holds you back from writing? Each of us could come up with a long list of reasons: lack of time, other obligations, I’d add something else: We don’t view writing as a business. To put it more bluntly, we often view writing as something “I do on the side. I’m not a real writer because ______________.” We fill in that blank with “I haven’t been published,” “I only write little articles for my church newsletter,” or “I’ve only sold a handful of books.”
Until we take writing seriously, we will find ourselves always missing our writing goals. Start this year by saying with me: “I am a writer and I’m going to pursue this calling to the best of my
Didn’t that feel good? Now here are some concrete ways to help us manage our time better in order to have more time to write.
- Guard against what some call “mission creep,” as in “you can’t meet your writing goals without setting priorities.” If you don’t view your writing as a business, you’ll find it very easy to say yes to things that eat into your writing time. Guard against that by keeping in mind even Jesus “understood that all the good things he could do were not necessarily the things he ought to do,” as Kevin DeYoung put it in his excellent little book, Crazy Busy.
- Set manageable goals. We all want to bang out a novel in a month, but most of us don’t have time to do that while we’re working on our other callings, such as our job, taking care of our home/family, etc. Think about what seems reasonable and doable, so as not to set yourself up for failure right out of the gate.
- Consider your season of life. Maybe you have children who need more attention, perhaps your job is more demanding right now, maybe you have to help a family member or friend. Whatever your situation, remember, that we might be called to put our writing
on hold for a time—and that’s okay. Even if you’re not writing, you can think about writing, pray about the time you’ll have to write in the future, and concentrate on what God has put before you at this moment.
- Build in margins. Richard Swenson, a Christian physician, said that “Margin is the space between our load and our limits.” All too often, we pack our lives so that there’s no discernible space between what we have to do and the time in which we have to accomplish it. That means, we’ve left no room for error. In writing, that translates into staying up all night to finish a chapter or book on deadline. That’s not a way to live and it’s definitely not a way to write our best.
- Give yourself grace for the “misses.” We can’t always hit our targets, but we don’t have to let those misses derail us—but we do. We consider the inability to put words on a page—or enough words on the page—that we needed to do according to our schedule as a failure and then we use that as an excuse to not try again. We let those failures to weigh us down and to slice away our self-esteem until we can’t write even if we have the time.
- Let go of perfection. We often get bogged down with wanting our writing to be perfect from the get-go that we can’t move past the initial page, chapter, section or draft. We’re not perfect and neither will our writing. That’s okay, and to realize that while we can strive to be the best we can be, we don’t have to hold onto perfection as our goal. It’s okay to have a rough draft that’s full of holes or needs a lot of work. Finish the piece. Edit the piece. Then review it again. There’s a reason they say writing is a process with many steps along the way.
Being a writer is more than putting words on paper—it’s a mindset, a calling, and yes, a way to bring God glory no matter what your genre, style, and outlet. So stop letting things get in your way and keep focused on your writing this year.
A freelance writer and editor, Sarah Hamaker has written two nonfiction books: Ending Sibling Rivalry: Moving Your Kids From War to Peace (Beacon Hill Press, 2014) and Hired@Home (DPL Press, 2008). Her stories have appeared in several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, including Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers. Sarah lives in Virginia with her husband and four children, and is a certified Leadership Parenting Coach™. Visit her online at www.sarahhamaker.com, where she blogs about parenting issues.