A while ago, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about time management. Like so many others, she too was struggling to carve out time for her creative work. She was wondering if she would make any progress with her novel if she only had 15 minutes a day to write.
This made me think back to the time when I had just had my son (now 4 years ago) and was afflicted by a sudden change in perspective on what it meant not to have time.
Before my son was born, I would find myself with half an hour on my hands and think: Shoot! I only have half an hour to write. What’s the point to even start? Or I would decide to write for the next two hours but would get distracted over and over again. So all in all, I spent huge chunks of time either trying to write or deciding that time was insufficient to do so.
And then a wonderful tiny being was born who turned out to be an amazing time zapper. At first, I despaired but then got down to business because the only other option would have been to give up. Sometime later, I was surprised by how much I could accomplish in between changing diapers and cuddling. Sometimes I had an hour (an eternity!) and other times just 15-20 minutes. It’s amazing how having too little time can improve one’s focus and productivity. In the end, if self-discipline is lacking, no amount of time will get the job done.
Now, it’s been three months since my two girls were born and I’m applying the same philosophy. So trust me, even if you have only a quarter of an hour a day to focus on your craft, do it. I’ll give you four good reason why this is the way to go:
- You will stay connected to your project. After long breaks, I lost a lot of time reviewing what I had already written instead of moving forward.
- My friend had the objection that when working only 15 min a day on her novel, she would not be able to keep an overview of the project. I didn’t find this to be the case (at least for me). The plot and the feel of the story, the things that need fixing and what’s to come are all kept alive in the writer’s mind even if the mind is occupied only 15 min a day with the project.
- By working regularly on their creative dream, even if it’s only 15 minutes daily, a writer hones the self-discipline and focus they need to bring a project to completion. Like this, when circumstances finally allow a greater chunk of time to be allotted to the craft, one will be ready to utilize the time to the fullest.
- Let’s do the math. Even if one writes only 200 words a day, this will amount to about 70 000 words in a year. That’s almost a complete rough draft (depending on genre). There are some who write much slower than that (perhaps in bigger chunks, but slower). I used to be one of these people before I ran out of time.
In the end, there is no defeat in trying even if progress is slow. The real defeat is to give up. (Another manifestation of giving up is waiting for a better time). There is no better time than the now to begin…and then to keep going and keep going and keep going.