Author Bob Hostetler

Finding Time to Write

How do you find time to write? You don’t.

Non-writers try to find time to write; writers make time to write.

A couple lifetimes ago, after having been a pastor for seven years, I took a desk job—the first time in my adult life when my job wasn’t 24/7. But it was also the first time when I had a boss on site, and set office hours. I had written and published a few articles every year during my pastoral tenures, but once I was in a (roughly) 9-to-5 job, I made it a goal to write a book.

In addition to my 9-to-5 job, however, I had a wonderful wife who deserved a fair proportion of my attention and energy. I also participated (loosely) in raising our two children of elementary-school age. So even though my schedule was not as constantly demanding as it had been when I was the pastor of a growing church, time was still at a premium. When would I find time to write?

Our small home at the time had no extra room for a home office, so I set up my desk in the furnace room. No kidding, it was a real sweat shop. So I had a place to work, but I still had to carve out the time to write. I committed (and told my wife and a couple friends) that I would write for a couple hours each workday evening after my two school-age children were in bed. I planned to write a chapter each week, and promised myself and my wife that if a week’s chapter wasn’t written by bedtime on Saturday evening, I would not go to bed until it was done. I first-drafted my first book, two hours at a time, ten hours or more a week, for fourteen weeks…on a manual typewriter.

Another book (the first I published) was written by going to the office at least an hour early (and I am not a morning person!) to write on an actual computer from 7:30-8:30 a.m., before the rest of the staff came in.

Later, having planted a new church, I crammed all my writing time into one morning and afternoon each week, on my “off day,” before a new week of ministry demands clamored for my attention.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote in the car, while his wife drove him to and from butterfly-catching expeditions. William Faulkner found time to write by utterly neglecting his postmaster job. A. J. Jacobs writes on a treadmill. Some people write during the kids’ nap time, others while the kids are in school. Some carry a notepad with them so they can write wherever they are, while others sketch out a particular place or routine.

My point is, it is almost universally futile to try to find time to write. That’s seldom how time—or creativity—works. So get creative. Figure it out. Make time your servant, not your master. And wrestle your calendar and clock into submission to your artistic goals.

How do you (or will you) make time to write?

 

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