I may make a living writing, but much to my disappointment, I just don’t do it writing fiction. I hold down a full time job, sometimes more than one, and I have a family. I have a couple of pets, and I like to garden and walk and watch the occasional show on TV. More than one of my friends have asked something along the lines of: “I’d like to write a novel, but I don’t have the time. How do you do it?”
Therein lies the problem. Last I checked, everyone had the same number of hours in the day. Sure, some people can squeeze out a few extra hours by sleeping less, but basically you get up to 24 hours to do with as you choose. While some things are less about choice than a necessity—sleeping, eating, and earning some money to allow those two things to happen—what differs is how a person chooses to use their more “open” time. A long afternoon nap or a trip to the grocery store? Two hours playing the latest go-round of Resident Evil or reading the latest Neil Gaiman book. An hour writing or an hour lounging in a hot bath immersed in a Bach concerto.
As with most things I might want to do, I don’t just miraculously have time to write, I must make the time to write. You see, life is a zero sum game. For those of you not familiar with the concept of zero sum, it’s a situation in game theory where every gain must be offset by a loss of an equal amount. So, for every hour I spend writing, I cannot spend that hour watching TV or going for a walk or working. I must prioritize what I want to do with my time. Some things by necessity need to have a high priority. I must sleep and eat. I must earn money, so I must work. I must spend time with my family. But those remaining hours? Those are more flexible in how I can choose to spend them, and I like to write, and I want to write. It’s important to me, so I make the time to write by not doing something else that I might also like to do. I prioritize my writing and thus make the time.
In this day and age, I believe almost everyone has the time to write or read or garden or play video games. They likely don’t have the time to do all or maybe even a few of these things, but they have the time somewhere in the day if it is a high enough priority. If you want to write a novel or a short story, the time is there for the taking, but is it important enough to you to give up something else you might want to do? That is the real question in my mind.