Last week, I ran into a colleague I hadn’t seen in several years. During our catch-up, I mentioned that I had started writing and publishing fiction, which led him to ask how I found the time to do that. As a writer, this is probably most common question I get asked by people who know I also hold a day job. Many aspiring writers say they struggle to “find” time to write, but I don’t think it’s a matter of “finding” time. It’s a matter of priorities, and if something is a high enough priority, you don’t “find” the time; you simply do it. Do I “find” time to spend with my family? Do I “find” the time to show up to my day job? No. These things are important enough to me they get first dibs on my time. The same goes for my writing. Writing is important to me, so I don’t “find” time to do it—it gets done, and I “find” time to do things that are a lower priority to me. In many cases, I think finding time is any easy excuse not to write.
To make all this easier, it’s important to maximize the hours I have available to write (and to do other things). For example, I commute 20-30 minute by bus for my day job. While I see many of my fellow passengers sleeping or playing on their mobile devices (and I pass no judgement here), I use that time to write—I edit a story or outline one or work on characters. The bus is my mobile writing office, and by using it as such, I get nearly an hour of writing done in a situation where I have few other options. (Of course this works for me because I don’t get motion sick, like some people do.)
A writer that aspires to be more than a hobbyist needs to place a high priority on writing. That means doing more than “finding” time to write; it means committing to writing and “finding” time to do other things. If you hold a day job or have other high priority commitments, it likely means finding ways to maximize writing opportunities. Without this commitment, however, I think it’s impossible to find long-term writing success.