Friday, January 31, 2020

Finding Time to Write: Choices All Writers Face

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

True confession time.

Writing is both the thing I love best and the thing I hate most.

When the words flow, it’s heaven on earth. When they stutter to a halt, the opposite is true. And the truth is, both of these circumstances are a regular part of the writer’s life.

We write when we feel like, and when we don’t; when we’re inspired, and when we’re not. Most of all we write because we have to. Putting words on paper is life to some of us and an addiction without a recovery group.

The time to write isn’t something we find. It’s something we sacrifice for, carving it out of lives that are as busy as anyone else. I get so weary of wanna-be writers complaining about no time to write.

I have author friends who don’t have the time either. One author I know honored a deadline even though his granddaughter was having brain surgery—he wrote in the hospital waiting room. Another, a stay-at-home mom, had just the opportunity of a contract and she wrote in the ten and fifteen minutes breaks available while caring for a special needs daughter, a preschooler and a toddler. 

I could share story after story after story about how writers I know have sacrificed to follow their vocation—all true. The truth is that we all have the same 24 hours in a day and we all have the choice of how to spend them.

“If you can imagine yourself doing anything else besides writing—do it!”

I’ve been known to give this advice to those just starting out—because they still have time to turn back. I’m a hopeless case. I’ll write myself into a grave and hopefully beyond.

Becoming a writer is a decision—followed by a life of choices that enable us to live out that commitment.

Here are some of the hard choices you’ll need to make to find writing success:
  • Trading TV time for writing time. (You’ll need those hours to put words on paper.)
  • Committing to a lifetime of learning and staying current with the publishing industry. (The industry is changing a lightning speed, either keep up or die.)
  • Saying no to the good things, so you’ll have time to say yes to the best things. (Writing is an isolated life a lot of the time.)
  • A willingness to write through the junk to get to gems. (Good writing is rewriting—don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.)
  • The necessity of checking your ego at the door. (There’s always someone more talented, successful, lucky, etc. Get over it and move on.)
  • A willingness to trust other professionals (like your agent and your editor).
  • An unwillingness to compromise what truly matters. (And no this does NOT contradict #6)
  • Trading talking about writing for actually writing. (Networking is important, but not as important as writing)
  • The commitment to keep going when the odds seem impossible. (In this industry impossible odds is the new normal.)
Well, this is my list. It’s your turn to add your thoughts. You all always have such valuable insights, please share them below in the comments section.

Don't forget to join the conversation!


Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. No matter whether she’s talking to writers, entrepreneurs, or readers, her first advice is always “Find your voice, live your story.” As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. Connect with her on her website,  through FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


  1. Sometimes those doubts speak and say "why do this?" But the heart yearns to put on paper what is struggling to get out. That list is an encouragement to keep going and use all those snippets of time wisely. Blessings Edie!

  2. When I first started writing and speaking, I had so many doubts. Who did I think I was that I could do this? But the calling was strong, and the Lord was moving me for sure. I left teaching school and enrolled in seminary. I started blogging. Yet I still needed reassurance. The Lord covered that, too. At every retreat or special event I did that first fall, someone would come up to me (clueless at how I was struggling) and tell me, "Keep doing this. This is your gift." Every event. I finally told the Lord: "I get it. I'm in." With every new project, my prayer is the same. Am I doing what You want? And He is faithful to provide the encouragement I need to keep going. Thanks for this timely reminder this morning, Edie. It IS a sacrifice. But what we are doing counts for eternity. So worth it.

  3. Edie Thanks for reminding me about the sacrifice. I get so side-tracked! I tell myself I am too old; I have done what I wanted to do; God really doesn't expect this of me. And then, he nudges me again. Good list and I needed it.

  4. Thanks Edie. By far, your most hard-hitting post. Should be required reading for all writer wannabes. Or professional photographers. Or pro athletes, etc. Anyone who's "all in." In my experience, there are a lot of writing guild members who are content to "be involved" with writing and go on a comfortable, as-I-can pace. Photo lover who are content with cell phone pics over sinking big bucks into expensive equipment & a long learning curve in order to have award-winning photos. Athletes who benefit from being part of a program that offers life lessons in addition to opportunities to compete in a sport they love. Life is quite different for those who are ALL IN. There's room for all of these levels, and your post for those ALL IN is the cold, hard wisdom we all need to hear so we know and usderstand the real path we're on. Frustrations and setbacks come to those on both paths, so we must deal with them differently so we don't confuse wishes with goals. Those ALL IN require that we prepare our families well and be prepared to choose our friends differently. Those closest to us MUST understand the calling of the ALL IN writer. Blessings for sharing these wise, reality - based truths.
    Jay Wright; Anderson, SC

  5. To this day, I cherish the little reminder I made for my desktop when I'm "too busy" to write. "If you can imagine yourself doing anything else besides writing, then Do It! - Edie Melson" Thank you for an always encouraging nudge ma'am. God's blessings.

  6. Sleep - you forgot to talk about trading sleep for writing! Just kidding - I love to stay up late and write, because I got in the habit of that when my four kids were itty bitty. But, now that they are grown ... the house is way too quiet often, but, I still like those late-night hours, with praise music on to hide the "empty" and typing away at my computer! Thanks for these tips!

  7. Thank you, Edie. I realized after hearing numerous writers say it, "You don't have time, you make time."