In 2014, I’ve written over 500k words… most of which are publishable or soon will be. I’m often asked how I make time to write—or sometimes the sister-question of how I find motivation to write. Both are the wrong question to ask to achieve the objective: writing more. When you have a hard time starting a new work or finding a spare moment to write in between the demands of life or are doing everything but writing, procrastinating with Facebook or laundry or any of the million things on your to-do list… these are all variants of the same thing. Resistance. Steven Pressfield talks a lot about Resistance in his book, The War of Art, which I highly recommend. In essence, Pressfield says Resistance is that dark force in the universe that keeps you from creative acts. It’s the constant antagonist that works in every possible way to defeat you, the protagonist, from reaching your goal of creating a unique work. I like this viewpoint because it gives proper weight to what you are doing: creative acts are inherently life-giving, worthwhile things. They are more important than laundry, something that should be obvious on its face, but often is not.
There has to be a balance in life—I’m not saying you should give up all recreation, time with family, or basic hygiene (although I’ve been known to do all those things in pursuit of a writing deadline). But if you’re struggling to find time to write, then I’m guessing that writing is at the bottom of your priority list. Not the priority list you have in your mythical List of Important Things in Life, but the actual priority list —the one that determines which things actually get done. As Steven Covey says in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: you need to put first things first (meaning the important things, not the most pressing). This topic always reminds me of Stephen King early in his career, when he had to work horrific menial jobs to keep food on the table but still relentlessly wrote his stories in every spare moment, often late into the night. King didn’t struggle to find time to write… if he had any Resistance at all, it was overwhelmed by his drive to write. Rediscover why you write, plumb the depths of your love of the thing, and your drive will return, arming you with weapons to defeat the Resistance forces in your life.
Finally, a word about productivity: the more you write, the better you will write, and the faster. There are manifold benefits to writing every day, not least because it beats the forces of Resistance over the head in a steady cadence that will keep them at bay. Once you have the habit of writing, you will begin to unlock the higher levels of productivity that will multiply that habit: not just in increased wordcount, but in continuity and inspiration. The steady feeding of the creative engine of your mind will not only reward you with reaching your goals sooner, it will make the journey a happier one as well.
Keep striving and keep writing, my friends!
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy and the Debt Collector serial, as well as other speculative fiction novels and short stories. Her work has appeared in the Synchronic and Telepath anthologies and has been optioned for Virtual Reality by Immersive Entertainment. Her business card says “Author and Rocket Scientist” but she mostly sits around in her PJs in awe that she gets to write full time. Check out her website for free stories to whet your appetite.