I slept in this morning. 5:30am. It was glorious. The sky was light, so chores were easier. The air was still cool-ish (with about 80% humidity.) And I was a bit more rested.
Still, on the farm, as the morning person, the chores fall to me. So I fed both sets of chickens, fed the goats and Great Pyrs, gave Mosey and Meander their food (FYI, Mosey ALWAYS eats like he’s never been fed, just in case you think we’re starving him), and harvested about 20 cucumbers, 10 yellow squash, and 3 zucchini. Then, I washed the veggies, started the coffee, packed Philip’s lunch, and picked up the house. All before 6am.
I say this not to brag or to complain. This simply is the reality for our home. Your mornings may look much the same with children swapped for chickens and piles of laundry for the goats. We are ALL busy.
Now, it’s just after 8am, and I’ve opened the farm stand and am tucking in for 8 hours of writing and editing work, and at the end of that time, we’ll feed everyone again before I make dinner and we work some on the barn interior. About 8pm tonight, I’ll drop onto the couch, pick up some cross-stitch and hit bed at 10. That’s my day.
You probably have to swap up 8 hours of writing and editing for another form of work. Plus, you may have homework to supervise or an event or ball game to attend.
I’ll say it again, we are ALL busy.
It’s a struggle to make time to do the things that feed our souls when it seems like every minute is spent just keeping up and feeding our bodies.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the past 5 years of making my living as a writer: There is never enough time to do what we love unless we make the time. Even though I spend many of my hours every day working with words, unless I choose to make time for my own work, I don’t write anything for myself. (Lest you still harbor the beautiful delusion that writing books pays the bills, let me assure you that the $6.56 I made from The Slave Have Names this much is not getting us much but a trip to the Tastee Freeze.)
Here are a few things I do to make time for my own writing. (If you’re not a writer, substitute in reading or sewing or woodworking or hiking or whatever thing you do that you love with the most of who you are.)
- I give myself permission to do what I enjoy every day. I’m not sure how it happened — Protestant work ethic, devotion to the dollar, whatever — but Americans have a hard time believing that it’s okay to take pleasure in something every day, and if we take pleasure in our work, whew boy!, then we are really living on the edge. But here’s what I’ve learned – I’m the only one who is going to say it’s okay for me to write every day, even if I don’t make a cent, even if no one else sees it. I enjoy it, and so I remind myself it’s okay to just do something for the sheer pleasure of it. Give yourself permission to do what you love, every day.
- I work on a schedule. Whether it’s stopping to sew at 8pm or writing these blog posts on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sunday or simply using my best energy (for me, that’s in the morning) to write my own work, I keep a schedule in mind. The rest of my life is scheduled, so if I don’t schedule in time to write, it just gets gobbled up by everything else. Put time for your passion on your calendar – literally. Write it in there. Now! 🙂
- I set measurable goals. If I have a project that I’m working on, then I plan to do a set amount of work each day – write 1,000 words (as Shawn Smucker suggested), query 3 agents, do an hour of research. These goals allow me to feel that I’ve both put time toward a project AND completed something. Craft a daily goal for your passion and hold yourself to it.
- I give myself grace. Some days, I just don’t get it done. We have company or the animals need more care than usual or I’m just too tired. On those days, I breath deep, I remind myself that life is beautifully unpredictable sometimes, and I let it go. Then, the next day, I start again with my permission, and my schedule, and my goals. I expect that if you are like me you are carrying around some measure of guilt about not living into your dreams. Today, let that go. Commit to start anew. Give yourself the grace to a new day as a new chance.
People write books even while they raise young children. People sculpt masterpieces even while they work full-time in a cubicle. People have amazing gardens even while they wait tables 40 hours a week. People do beautiful, wonderful, incredible things even when they’re busy.
The secret to their accomplishments? They make the time to do them.
Here’s to hoping you make the time to do what you love for a few minutes every day. Even when you’re busy. You might just find that you feel the weight of ALL YOU HAVE TO DO lift a little when you’re taking joy each day.