The #1 Thing That Stops You From Being A Writer

Typewriter: Harvesting Words, a writing workshop for farmers and gardeners

“I’m not sure I can make the time”

“I can’t figure out how to fit it into my schedule”

“I’m worried I’m too busy to commit — and that I won’t be able to complete what I set out to do.”

Time.  It’s the number one thing that stops you from growing your writing practice and from becoming the writer you long to be.

Or is it?

When I survey my students from Harvesting Words, the overwhelming majority of them say their biggest hesitation in taking the workshop was finding the time to write.  But let’s look at this a little deeper.

The truth is, we all have the same 24 hours in a day.  

There are non-negotiables, like sleeping, eating, and working.  There are habits that increase your creativity, like meditation, exercise, and being outside; and habits that suck time away, like scrolling on your phone or binge-watching Netflix (I’m guilty of this, too).

Time is there for the making — because it’s not actually about whether or not you have the time, it’s about whether or not you make the time.  

tea and journal
Morning tea and journal in my writing nook

5 Steps To Finding Time & Becoming A Writer

Turn the thought I don’t have enough time to the question where can I find the time?

This helps you move from scarcity to curiosity, and curiosity is a much more fruitful state of mind.  Now, instead of focusing on worrying about what you don’t have, you’re focused on finding a solution.

Schedule it

It takes 30 seconds to schedule your writing time.  All you need to do is open your calendar, pick a slot, and write it down.

The next step is showing up.

Scheduling is a two-step process: setting the time, and showing up for the time.  One helpful way to make sure you show up and write is to include what you’re going to write about in your planner.

I take a few minutes at night and jot down what I’m going to work on the next day.  For example, last night I wrote: Blog post.  Simple.  And yet it helps me focus when I sit down to write.  

Write in the margins

In her book, Wild Words, author Nicole Gulotta talks about writing in the margins.  The idea is simple: write in the in-between moments of your day.  

From taking 5 minutes to write while the pasta is cooking, 15 minutes to write while sitting in a waiting room, or in my case, jotting a few notes down when an idea comes as I weed in the field — these small moments add up to many words.

Yes, you may dream of full days spent typing away, but it’s the willingness to write in the margins that keep your momentum and creativity alive. 

Commit – and accept the journey 

“I’m worried I’m too busy to commit — and that I won’t be able to complete what I set out to do.”

Fear of incompletion.  Fear of not being enough.  Fear of not doing it well. Fear of failure.

This is the real thing that stops you from being a writer.  

The good news is that you’re not alone, and you don’t have to stay there.  I feel fear and worry almost every day. You know what gets me out of it? Taking action.  Putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and writing. 

As Elizabeth Gilbert writes in Big Magic, fear will always be along for the ride.  It’s just not allowed to sit in the front seat, hold the map, touch the radio, or choose the snacks.  

On that note, give more weight to the encouraging over discouraging thoughts in your head.

Will there be unexpected interruptions?  Days when you need to shift your schedule?  Days when you choose to fill your time with something else?  Yes. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start writing.  

Do you ever think: there might be weeks without rain, so I shouldn’t plant this seed right now.

No — you plant the seed because you know the work of irrigating will get you to the ripe tomato.  

Everything in life comes with challenges, and the difference between what we achieve and what we don’t is the commitment we bring to our journey.  Don’t let the fear of incompletion stop you from beginning.  

Like gardening, writing is a circular act.  

You may finish an essay, but like a seed that turns into a flower and eventually sets new seeds, there’s always another idea waiting to grow. 

And like the garden, we grow better together.  Writing will always be an individual act, but one that can flourish in community.  If you’re looking for accountability, community, and guidance, check out Harvesting Words, an online writing workshop for farmers and gardeners.

Those students who worried about not having time?  Here’s what they said at the end of Harvesting Words:

“Writing is no longer on the back burner. It no longer lives as a good idea if I get around to it. Now it is a need and is actually scheduled on my calendar. The practice of writing every day has turned my observer back on full time.”

“I am more willing to write. Before it was all in my head. Now I have the motivation to get my pencil to paper.”

“While I am always at risk for falling back into bad habits (of not writing), especially as I begin teaching in the new semester, I have created more space in my life for creating new writing, and that is always exciting.”

Do you want to plant a seed and grow your writing life? 

Do you want to make the time, cultivate creativity, and harvest words?

I hope you will.  Because the world wants to hear your stories, and so do I.  

Learn more about Harvesting Words here.

What’s one writing goal that you have?  

Studies show that writing down your goals makes you 42% more likely to achieve them, so take a moment to plant the seed of your goal.

Open a journal or leave your goal in a comment below. We can help each other grow.

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