It’s Time We Got Serious

See full issue for 2015 11-23

Writing takes focus, imagination, skill, and most importantly, it requires time. However, time isn't an easy thing to find. I’m sure you’ve all heard the complaints before. Like me, you’ve probably voiced them now and then, as well.

“I don’t have time to write. I’m too busy. I have obligations and responsibilities. I can’t just sit down and write until I do this and this and this. I’ll never have a proper career as an author, because there aren’t enough hours in the day.”

*cue tiny violin*

That’s bullshit.

Don’t get mad. (Although, I must say, you’re pretty sexy when you’re angry.)  I’m not judging you. I’m chastising a little, sure, but I make the same excuses, so there is no judgment. We’re in this together, guys, and that’s why I’m using Miller Time to give your heads a little shake.

You all have the time to write and I’ll prove it.

But first, a bit of rambling. I don’t always participate in NaNoWriMo, but when I do, it kicks me in the ass pretty hard. This year, I decided to use my participation to conduct an experiment. How much time could I make for writing without sacrificing the other things I either love or have to do in order to keep a roof over my head and my kids alive? How much writing can I accomplish while still functioning in the world like a normal, well-rounded adult?

This year, I wrote more than 50,000 words in NINE days. Shit, right? I bet you’re thinking I wrote all day every one of those nine days. Well I didn’t. I did, however, outline the book before I started writing, and I type really fast. That helped the words flow more easily. I also had a plan in place before I started. That plan ensured I had plenty of time to tap away at the keyboard.

First, I made a list of all the things I have to do regularly or enjoy doing that aren’t writing. Here are the main time-consumers:

  • Work
  • Netflix
  • Read
  • Clean
  • Cook supper (this is far more time-consuming than it seems)
  • Parent (as in actually talk to my kids and make sure they haven’t killed anyone while high on cocaine)
  • Sleep
  • Shower
  • Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

Your list might be different. If you’re a lush, ahem, I mean, if you’re social, you might go to a party or meet friends for lunch/supper instead of watching Netflix. Maybe you knit or color or play video games. Even if your list is different, my point is still the same. Right away you can see a couple of things I can stop doing or cut back on. I mean, one doesn’t have to clean, right? Just kidding. There are four people, two dogs, a cat, and a fish in this house. Cleaning is necessary. Netflix and reading are obviously optional. Next would be cutting back sleep or maybe taking a shorter shower. Work is kind of non-negotiable, but reading time can be modified, as well as the time I spend online.

However, in my case, I didn’t stop doing any of these things entirely.

I worked five of those nine days (I had an easy work week). On three of those five days, I got up, took my daughter to school, had an hour after that to get ready and then I had go to work, and didn’t return home until about nine on those nights. I went to bed by eleven every night, but one and I didn’t get up until six each morning. On the weekend, I slept until a little after seven, because I’m lazy and I like sleeping.

I also cleaned, but not like OCD cleaning, because I never do that. I kept the laundry caught up, swept and mopped the floors so the dog hair didn't grow into a carpet, and made sure the dishes didn't pile higher than a smallish-sized mountain. I even cleaned both bathrooms (You can’t even imagine the horror) and I went shopping for several hours on two of those nine days.

Oh, and I still watched Netflix and I farted around online.

But how did I still write 50,000 words in less than two weeks?

I’m magic.

But seriously, I figured out how to distribute my time so I could do both the things I had to do, and the things I love to do. I watched Netflix, but I didn’t watch forty episodes of Vampire Diaries in a single day. I was strong, and I cut my Netflixing to one hour each day. (When I’m hard core procrastinating, Netflixing can eat up six solid hours. I have a problem.)

I read a book too, but just one. Usually I have a couple on the go, but I said to myself, “Renee, something’s gotta give here, and you don’t even like that other one.” I read for about twenty minutes each day. A couple of days I was stumped in the story I was writing, so I read a little bit longer. And I only wasted time online when I needed a break from the writing. I set a little timer so I didn’t spend longer than fifteen minutes online during each break, because I'm weak.

And those of you that follow me around online know I accomplished much time-wasting in those short breaks.

I also cooked supper (and some were real suppers, not macaroni and cheese), and when I wasn’t working, I ate dinner with my family. I made sure the pre-teen took a shower at least every other day. To put it simply, I was able to be a mom and a mediocre housewife. There was no burying myself in the book and not speaking to my family just to get the words written. Of course, my kids aren’t “little” anymore, so the time spent with them isn’t as much as it used to be. They tell me when they want to hang out, and it’s not often or for very long, because teenagers are generally allergic to such things.

There was also some sex, but we’re not allowed to talk about that, so let’s move on. I spent one of those nights hanging out with my sister-in-law and I also wrote an article for Miller Time.

What I’m trying to show you all is that if you want to write, and I mean you TRULY want to write, you will. If it is your passion, nothing will stop you. If you’re serious about it, you’ll find a way to steal time from other activities without causing yourself or others to suffer.

Still doubtful?

Just try it. Next week, steal an hour of Netflixing or game playing from each day. Add to that an hour each day you’d have spent on the Internet, cleaning or socializing, and how much time have you set aside? Oh my, that’s like at least fourteen hours right there. Fourteen hours of writing time in seven days. That’s two hours each day. You could even take a day off and do things outside and you’d still get a shit ton of writing done. Or, you could spend a night spent indoors instead of going out to get shit-faced with your friends. That could add another five or six hours of writing time. You don’t have to give up your bad habits, though. Go ahead and get drunk. Steal that time by getting up an hour earlier a few mornings each week instead, or by staying up an hour later at night.

Look at all the time you could be spending writing. Instead, you’re busy whining about it while you ogle Ian Somerhalder’s ass. You should be ashamed of yourself.

I am the worst procrastinator I know. I love Netflix in a very unhealthy way, and I have to work at least four to five days a week to keep the heat on and our bellies full. I play Candy Crush (I have enough shame, so stop with the disdainful glare, thank you very much) and I stare at walls, because sometimes I’m just too damn tired to do anything else. I love the Facebook and the Twitter and post stupid shit every single day. So if I, the biggest excuse maker and procrastinator you’ll ever meet, can steal enough time to write the better part of a novel in nine days, you can steal thirty minutes here and there.

Writing is something you claim to love, isn’t it? If you really do love it, you will find the time. Period.



Renee Miller

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