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The March Of Time Too many potentially good writers use the excuse, "not enough time," to keep from writing. They are underachievers. Somehow the really good writers always find, no make, time to write. So you wanna be a writer? Well the excuses stop here and now. Right here is the secret to cutting through all the time-wasters that hinder your writing. Let's get started -- there's no time to lose.
by Brian Plante
If you're serious about writing, you won't ever get married, or waste a lot of time on the opposite sex. That just takes all kinds of time away from your important work. Instead, you're married to the craft; your novel is your mistress. No kids, either -- your short stories can be your children. Invest your valuable time in them and send them out into the world to stand on their own two feet.
Don't ever buy a house if you aspire to be a great writer. Instead of putting words together, you'll spend your days mowing the lawn, painting the walls, and fixing leaks. There's always something to be done, something to be fixed in a house you own, so don't. Instead, rent the smallest place you can fit into and simplify your life. Let the landlord worry about painting and mowing from now on.
Quit your day job, if you have one. Get out of the rat race and be your own boss and you'll have the full day to work on your stories. Imagine how productive you can be if you don't have to worry about keeping some company in business.
Yes, you're aghast at the thought of striking out on your own and quitting the regular paycheck, but trust in yourself and your ability to earn a living off the thing you love most -- your writing. But some of you will be too timid to quit, so at least eliminate the daily commute. Rent an apartment as close to your job as you can. Too many writers spend ten hours or more per week traveling back and forth to their workplace. Imagine what you could write in that time. If you can walk or ride a bike to work, so much the better -- car maintenance is just another time waster.
You gotta eat, but you don't have to waste a lot of time over it. If you're a bit heavier now than when you were a teenager, you could stand to miss a meal or two. Just keep working through the hunger. When you must eat, keep it light, keep it simple, and keep it fast.
Do you really need to watch television? No, of course you don't. How many hours are you wasting in front of the tube? Give it up and reclaim those hours for the really important things. And that goes the same for video games, movies, music and Internet surfing on your computer. All of them are time-sinks that rob you of the valuable hours needed to crank out your literary masterpieces.
What about books and magazines? They are no different from TV really. Be a player, not a spectator, and get rid of them all. Sure, the pleasure of reading was what made you want to become a writer in the first place, but you're way past that now. At your funeral, nobody's going to praise you for how many thousands of novels you read, but they'll measure you by how many books you wrote, so clear those bookshelves now and reclaim another great chunk of time for your work.
OK, here's a biggie you probably haven't thought of -- sleep! One third of your life slips by while you're unconscious, but it doesn't have to be that way. Caffeine and other stimulants can keep you going for 20 hours a day or so. Yeah, you'll have to sleep sometime, but don't let the clock rule when you hit the sack. Keep writing long into the night, when the world gets so quiet that there are no interruptions. Resist your body's urges to sleep and fight tooth and nail for those few extra hours every day.
Avoid other hobbies and endeavors that might slow you down. Gardening? Silk flowers look just fine and don't need any fussing. A pet? Well, if I didn't let you have kids, why on earth would you waste your time on some dumb beast? Golf? Grow up.
Don't go to parties and other useless social activities. Keep only a small number of friends, if you need to have any at all -- they are not really your friends if they suck away your valuable writing time. Support groups, even ones for writers, are not nearly as deserving of your time as the act of writing itself. Put your fanny in the seat and keep the pencil moving across the paper. Your readers will be your friends, and you'll have many.
Religion? If God really put you on this world to be a writer, he'll understand if you don't visit his house too often. He'll be proud you utilized the talent he gave you to the fullest.
Shopping, bathing, shaving, etc. There are so many things that you have to do, but when you look at it objectively, you can always do less and still get by. You're just a creature of habit, and habits can be broken.
If you've stuck with me this far in reading this article, you might be wondering if giving up all these things can really be beneficial. Well, I wouldn't be telling you all of this if I hadn't actually done it myself. Last year, I made a commitment to my writing full-time. By full-time, I mean every second I'm awake I'm writing or thinking about writing. And look what it's done for me:
No wife and kids to worry about -- any more. I left them and the house and rented a small loft over a garage. There's no phone, TV or stereo to tempt me now. I wash down caffeine pills with Mountain Dew to stay awake most of the day, busy at my craft. I don't watch the clock, but when my stomach aches from lack of food, a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, or a package of Ramen noodles is all I need. If I ever feel the need to splurge, there's a pizzeria down the block. I hardly ever go out any more, and I like it that way. The pages are piling up.
Some of you may think my ascetic writing way of life sounds none too appealing. You couldn't be more wrong. I'm doing what I love, without wasting any time on things I don't. Once you sever the ties to all the things that prevent you from writing, you'll wonder how all those lesser scribes with day jobs and families and houses to look after ever have the time to produce a word.
It's worked for me, and look how far I've come. You can do it, too. Instead of collecting your fat weekly paycheck, kissing your beautiful wife and plopping down in front of the TV set with the kids to watch yet another Seinfeld rerun, just walk away from it all. Don't merely wish for a few crumbs of extra time to work on your little stories, but live the dream!
Copyright © 2003 Brian Plante Count= 5040
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