Author of Time Rep and Note To Self

Making the time to write

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the years, it’s that writing a book is really hard. And I mean really hard. For a start, you have to have an idea for a story, and that idea preferably needs to be a good one. You can of course have a bad idea for story, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Once you have a good idea for a story, you then need to have the time to write the bloody thing. This is really difficult, because in this day and age we have all sorts of modern distractions to deal with: work, sleep, seeing friends, watching television, watching television with friends, eating, maintaining an acceptable level of personal hygiene, eating sweets, feeding the cat, writing blog entries about making the time to write a book– the list is endless. Well, it’s not endless, but it’s pretty long.

Finally, you need the discipline to see the book through to the end. Starting work on a book is one thing, but finishing it is something else altogether. For me, persevering with Time Rep until it was done was the hardest part of the writing process. Now, you may have a romanticised image of my lifestyle as an author in your mind, imagining me to be someone who wakes up in the morning, lazes around the flat a bit thinking about what I’m going to write, before strolling down to my local cafe with a laptop, sitting out in the sun for a few hours merrily typing away, sipping a cappuccino. Well that couldn’t be further from the truth. Time Rep was written around a high-pressure, full-time job in London – a job I still do to this day. Once the book was finished and I began showing it to people, their first reaction was always the same: “Where on Earth did you find the time to write a book?” they would ask me. The answer is simple – I was so passionate about writing the book, I made the time. It took many, many years, but I got there in the end.

But how exactly do you make the time for something like that? The answer is simple – you just stop doing other things. With me, I stayed up late if I was on a roll with a particular chapter. Made notes in my lunch break about what I was going to work on that evening. I wrote around the periphery of my job. But work isn’t the only thing that gets in the way. Some people find it hard to find the time to write if they are in a relationship, and that’s perfectly understandable. After all, writing is a very solitary experience, and if your partner doesn’t understand that, it can lead to tensions that might get in the way of you pursuing your dream. Now, I’m not saying you should dump your partner to pursue a career as a writer, but at the same time, you mustn’t let a relationship get in the way. If you want to write a book and things like this are stopping you, find a solution. And if your partner cares enough about something that’s so important to you, they will understand. I’m very fortunate that my fiancee is as passionate about writing as I am, so she understands the need to leave me alone now and again, just so I have the space to complete what I’m working on. Obviously there is a balance to be had (I make sure I give her my full attention for at least 3 minutes a week), but take it from me – it is possible to reconcile writing commitments with a full time job, or a long-term relationship, or both.

But why am I telling you all this? Well, it’s because I know a lot of people out there want to write a book. Or have an idea for a book. Or have started writing a book. Or know someone writing a book. In many instances, these people find themselves stalling with their work, or not starting at all. And that’s a real shame. It saddens me to think about all these great books in people’s minds that may never get written, and it makes me think about all those potential masterpieces we may be missing out on. And why are we missing out on them? What’s the reason for this? What’s getting in the way of people following their dreams of writing a book? I’ll tell you – nine times out of time, when you ask someone why they have stopped writing (or haven’t even started), you get the same answer:

“I just haven’t got the time…”

Yes you do. You do have the time. We all have exactly the same time as everyone else – we just choose to use it in different ways. Now, of course I understand everyone has varying personal circumstances that make it more or less difficult for them to free up time. Maybe you have children, or care for someone, or have to watch three episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation every night (like me). Everyone has different commitments that intrude on the time we would ideally devote to pursuing an ambition, and I guess that’s life. However, if what I have said resonates with you; if you are someone who has a burning desire to write a book but finds there’s always something getting in the way, I hope this has made you realise that you are not alone. All authors have the same issue with making time for writing, and if they can put those issues to one side, you can do it too.

To summarise my feelings on all this, I’d like to finish with an old saying I heard recently that has a certain haunting quality to it; one that made me realise the need to stop dawdling and just get on with it:

“Today is the oldest you have ever been, and the youngest you’ll ever be ever again.”

Until next time.

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