WHEN do you write?


Credit: Michael Himbeault at Flickr

“When did you find time to write that book?” she asked.

“Every day,” I said.

I knew what she meant. I’m a pastor. How many hours a week do I devote to ministry? Too many.

But my answer was true nevertheless. I wrote that book a little every day, just like I have written or co-written the other six books with my name on the cover.

And the 45 articles I’ve had published.

All during the course of ten years while holding down a fulltime ministry job and raising a family.

Last time we looked at WHERE to write. This installment considers WHEN to write.

So let me start by talking about the wrong time to write: when you’re inspired.

Real writers know that inspiration is overrated and under-experienced. If you wait for it, you’ll never finish a writing project.

Writing is effort that must be exerted every day. It’s not something that mysteriously happens to you (like “inspiration” conveys). It’s something we do despite frustration and failure.

So we write every day. That’s important. But what time of day should you write?

That, my friend, depends.

To solve this riddle you should start by examining your daily schedule. Can you find an hour that you routinely waste? On TV, napping, surfing the internet? Voila. You just found your time of day. With little to no disruption to your schedule you can replace that wasted time with writing time.

You may miss a season of primetime TV, but you’ll finish the first draft of your book before you know it. I’ve written here about how surprisingly easy it is to complete a book by using time to your advantage.

I’m at my best in the morning. When I wake up, I’m fully awake. But my mornings are filled with ministry. Most of the day’s ministry relaxes during the afternoons (it wakes up again in the evenings). So I’m forced to find my writing time in the afternoons, when I’m not as alert as I might be at 6:00 am.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t think about writing in the morning.

One habit a writer must develop is the art of writing everything down immediately when you think of it. Don’t wait. Capture, capture, capture that thought.

But make a daily appointment with your computer to write, and don’t call in sick. Find a reward for yourself to enjoy after you’ve put in your time at the computer…a little something to look forward to after you’ve worked. And yes, it is work.

So when should you write? Immediately for fresh ideas. Daily for production. And at whatever hour of the day suits your schedule the best.

You can write a book. The real question is: What are you waiting for?

Time? You’re never going to get more.

Inspiration? Stop fooling yourself.

Tomorrow? We’re not promised it.

Retirement? Great, write another book after you retire, but not your first one. Write your first one now.

Get busy.




5 responses to “WHEN do you write?

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