Guest Post: Writing Coach Suzanne Harris

I invited my good friend and personal cheering section Suzanne Harris to write a guest post for me. Suzanne is an accomplished writer and poet, and has a thriving clientèle as a writing coach. Check out her website here.

Finding Time to Write

I thought twice about calling this post “Finding time to write.” I worried about setting up false expectations; maybe you’d think there was a simple solution you had overlooked. But I’m willing to bet that if you’ve been writing or wanting to write for any length of time, you already know the truth: deciding to write when you find time guarantees you won’t write much of anything at all.

You need to take the time.

When people come to me for writing coaching, one of the first things we do together is get clear about what their goals are, what they intend to achieve. Are they working their way through a novel? Dreaming of a collection of poems? Trying to get writing, period?

The next thing we do is look for time they can take for writing. Of course we check the obvious places to start: small pockets of ‘free’ time and inefficiencies—the loose change of the daily schedule—and maybe we’ll come up with lunch breaks or morning commutes on public transit.

But the reality is most people these days lead crazy-busy lives. We are over-allocated. We fill time, like our homes, with a lot of stuff. We want it all: work time, family time, social time, gym time, TV time, online time, email time, coffee time, volunteer time, reading time, play time, sleep time, down time AND writing time. We are busy busy busy, and that’s fine…except if you really, really want to write.

Ultimately, if you want to make progress toward your writing goals you have to take time from the activities that fill your days and re-allocate it to writing. A lot of writers make a habit of getting up early or staying up late to write. Yep, they shave time off sleeping.

Look at how you spend your days. Do you really need to watch Jeopardy? Play that video game? Answer email? Dip into Facebook? Chat your friends? Okay, maybe sometimes, but right now? (If you say yes, I’m going to be forced to ask you how serious you are about your writing!) Take an hour. Take thirty minutes. Take fifteen.

Writers write. Decide that writing is a priority and take time for it.

Our lives are full of obligations and distractions, but people are still cranking out novels, stories, poems and memoirs. They have jobs. And families. Their only secret is that they make a commitment and they sit down and do it. They take the time. And they keep at it. Ask Matt. He just finished his fourth novel a couple of weeks ago.

What is your goal? What would you like to write today?

Take the time.

Do it.

Suzanne Harris is a writing coach living and writing in Edmonton, Alberta. When she has a work in progress her mornings are dedicated, sacred time. No emails, no Facebook, no meetings, no coffee dates, no appointments, no errands, no laundry. Life and things like it are put off until after noon. She won’t even answer the phone. Her friends know this and support her by not even bothering to try to reach her until she surfaces later in the day. You can contact her through www.suzanneharris.ca any time you like, just don’t expect her to answer until after lunch.

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