Wednesday, May 4, 2016

But I don’t Have Time to Write! How to Beat the “Busy” Bully

by Lyneta Smith @LynetaS

There’s a bully on every block. Even writer’s block. We’ll call him “Busy.” He stands with arms crossed and a scowl on his face, daring us to open our laptops amidst a litany of other tasks that need our attention.

Between working other jobs, parenting, and taking care of the house, Busy Bully squeezes every hour until we don’t have time to write. Just like the scrawny 5th grader who refuses to give up his milk money to the burly 8th grader, we can take back our writing time.

Here are three ways we can shut down Busy Bully:

We have tasks that must be done, but they don’t all have to be done by us. Often, a teenager or college student will mow the lawn or clean the house inexpensively.

Those of us who are parents love to take care of our families and make sure our kids have everything they need. Between soccer, ballet, and all the other activities, even driving becomes a part-time job.

But consider something else children need­: life skills. When we allow them the opportunity to learn to clean their rooms, wash dishes, and other age-appropriate chores, we’re giving them a gift. They’ll grumble at first, but an incentive for chores (e.g., screen time or allowance) should sweeten the deal.

Parents of infants and preschoolers who are sleep deprived often roll their eyes at advice to “get up early or stay up late.” I don’t blame them! If writing first thing is the last thing you need, try swapping childcare with a friend or finding a Mom’s day out program. Choose a productive time of day and enjoy a guilt-free writing session.

Creative bursts come occasionally, but most
productivity depends on a regular routine.
Whether we need babysitting arrangements or not, usually we won’t write unless we schedule a specific time. 

If we don’t block off a segment of the day for writing, other demands inevitably take over.

Creative bursts come occasionally, but most productivity depends on a regular routine. 

Sometimes it’s difficult to get started when I’m not inspired, but if I stick with it more than 20 minutes, I usually get into a groove.

Once I put a writing session on the calendar, I keep the appointment as if I were meeting a client or going to a job. This is a great way to say “no” to invitations or volunteer opportunities you’d rather forgo.

“Sorry, but I have something scheduled that afternoon,” is a polite way to decline and stay on track with your goals. (If it’s too good to pass up, be sure to reschedule a writing session for another time.)

Sometimes we have editor-imposed deadlines, but not every writer has an official assignment or other external motivation to produce something. Joining a writers’ group, either locally or online, gives us the extra incentive.

I’ve crashed through many walls with help from my writing cheerleaders. Often, one of us in my critique group sends a group text with a challenge.

Our favorite is “Power Hour.” When we receive the text, we each reply with the hour we’ve chosen to focus on a writing project. The rest of the group prays for us during our intensive work hour and vice versa. We send congratulations when a member completes the challenge. I’m always amazed at what I can accomplish in an hour.

When thinking of challenges, keep it fun! Other ideas include word count challenges (e.g., 1000 words today) or number of blog posts/articles or chapters written in a week. Every group will have unique goals. Facing them together gives you better odds at keeping Busy away.

Busy Bully won’t stand a chance if you hit him with a triple jab—delegation, schedule, and accountability. Stop him cold with those three methods and you’ll own writer’s block.

What are some other methods you use to combat busyness and manage your time? Do you have some fun writing challenges to encourage productivity you’d like to share?

Combat the Busy Bullies that appear when you sit down to #write - @LynetaS (Click to Tweet)

But I don't have time to #write - how to beat the busy bullies - @LynetaS (Click to Tweet)

Lyneta Smith is a Christian writer and speaker who lives near Nashville with her husband in their almost empty nest. When she’s not curled up next to her Boston terrier and tortoise-shell cat, engrossed in writing, she’s out working in her tiny garden or teaching ladies’ Bible study. Her published work can be found in several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Clubhouse Jr., and many regional newspapers and magazines.

Connect with Lyneta on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter


  1. Lyneta, I love the analogy of Busy Bully. I do get beat up by business. Thank you for the tools to put the bully at rest.

    1. Thank you, Cherrilynn! I'm glad the tools were helpful.

  2. Because I have a full-time job, I decided to get up an hour earlier every morning to devote to writing after I have my Bible study time. You had some great ideas I will also interject into my schedule. I like the idea of the Power Hour with writing buddies.

    1. Barbara, I love to write early in the morning too. That's when my best stuff comes out.

  3. These are some great tips, Lyneta, and a great visual analogy to remind me I'm fighting off someone who shouldn't win when I'm fighting for writing time. Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Jerusha. It really is a struggle. Glad to know I'm not the only one!

  4. Good job, my CC sister. I have a Busy Bully hounding me all the time. Thanks for the tips.

  5. Thank you, Sharron! I admire all that you can get done with your schedule.