Clawing Out Time to Write


I am one of the most disorganized people in the world.  I get alot done, but often with the smoothness of Taz, the Tasmanian Devil.

My largest challenge is guarding my “writing” time.  This isn’t just time I spend in my office, but time I use to put words on paper.

Years ago, I started writing from four a.m. until seven a.m.  I tried writing in the evening but it seemed every time I started, someone in the family would need something that they’d forgotten to tell me–poster board for school the next day, a copy of the latest tax return, etc. and so forth and so on.

No one bothers you at four a.m.

Then again, it is too easy to hit the snooze button at four a.m. as well!

Now I have the luxury of writing full time, but I find I still need to “create” writing time.  I was told years ago that there would come a time when the business of writing would take more time than the actually writing.  I think I’m there, and if I want to do what I value, I must find the time to do it–even if it means clawing it out.

So, this week, I believe I shall start practicing the use of the word “No.”  There are many ways to decline an offer.  Living in the south, I hear savvy women say no all the time with such style, I want to apologize for having asked.  (I must master this trait!)

If we are serious about achieving our goals–whether it be meeting a page count or learning a new skill or exercising or any of the hundreds of activities that make our lives meaningful–we must learn to create time for ourselves.  Nor do I want my life so busy that I can’t say yes when something special comes my way.

I believe it is time to set my alarm for four a.m. again because writing is important to me.  Creating stories is what I value.

And what about you?  Can you say no?  Are you putting yourself, well, maybe not first, but high up there on the list?


  1. Amy Valentini
    Amy Valentini10-25-2011

    OMG! Cathy, I know exactly what you mean about ‘clawing out time’ to write. I don’t have the good fortune you have, yet, to make it a priority because it is your career but I still have the problem. The strange thing is that it’s my own doing more so than others. My husband supports my writing, thankfully, and so he’s always saying to me, “that can wait, go write if you want.” My problem stems from feeling guilty if I know there is some chore that needs to be done and I choose to write instead. Saying ‘no’ isn’t so much my problem except saying ‘no’ to myself. I learned a long time ago after being taken advantage of by everyone I knew – family, friends, clients, even strangers sometimes – to say “NO” sometimes followed by “what part of ‘NO’ didn’t you understand?” My husband loves when he starts to waffle under a sales pitch and I step in and say “NO and we mean ‘NO’, so go away.” Once I set my mind to ‘NO’, I stick to it. This did not come easy, believe me. I am also a southern girl, VA like you just a little farther north and so I understand the difficulty with breaking from the norm. There are ways to say ‘No’ so that you’re not coming out on the ‘bitchy’ side – when someone asks and you don’t want to do it just say, ‘sorry, no can do, I’ve got to work’, if they persist (which is mighty rude) tell them, ‘no really, I have no choice.’ It’s hard for anyone to argue that one but if they do, stand your ground and just say, ‘NO’! They will respect you more for it, Cathy … and if they don’t, you don’t need them to. Good luck. You say ‘No’ a little more often and I’ll tell myself ‘Go Write’ more often. : )

  2. Gail Nichols
    Gail Nichols10-25-2011

    I can’t say no to husband or my kids and as a result I have to ‘find” 30 minutes to go in my bathroom lock the door have some chocolate and a soda and read a romance novel.

  3. Cathy Maxwell
    Cathy Maxwell10-25-2011

    Gail, I know the bathroom trick. I’ve done some of my best reading there, especially in the wee hours of the night.

    Amy–lol! My husband used to call me his 401K plan. That erased some of the guilt. I was writing for “us.” Okay, one loud, forceful “NO!” Got it! :o)

  4. Amy Valentini
    Amy Valentini10-25-2011

    LOL!! It’s why I call the bathroom the ‘library’! We keep a stack of the latest magazines and there’s always a few books in there. I’m lucky if I get 30 minutes in there, Gail, before my hubby is banging on the door – “are you okay in there?” I roll my eyes annoyingly and holler back, “no, I fell in and can’t get out!” That particular ‘library’ needs a more comfortable seat though. ; )

    Cathy, the more you say ‘NO’ the easier it gets … I even taught my Mom to finally do it and she was a grandmother many times over and just couldn’t do all the things for them that she used to so I told her she just had to start saying ‘NO’ and she did. She’s much happier for it. : )

    My husband is always telling me that I have to do more things for myself – I think that’s one reason why he pushes me to write. He sends me links to writing sites – it’s how I found which I love because I get feedback galore – but I think he pushes me hoping I’ll finally get published and he knows I’m in a much better mood when I’m writing. : )

  5. Sandy Kenny
    Sandy Kenny10-28-2011

    Thank you so much for the awesome advice. I am desperately trying to find time to write, but I take a look around this pigsty of a house and my writing takes a back seat. I sit in my minivan in my driveway or in the parking lot of Dunkin Donuts to do some writing. My neighbor sees me sitting in my van and has a good laugh–I told him that its the only place where I’m not distracted by a mess. I also do the bathroom thing–but that only works for so long with four kids, one of whom is severely autistic and literally waits (with our dog) outside the door of the bathroom. Anyway, I love reading your postings, and I am very inspired to continue my writing. Thank you!!

  6. Cathy Maxwell
    Cathy Maxwell10-28-2011

    Well, for what it is worth, Sandy–cleaning the house has never been a priority of mine! :o) However, the kids always have been a priority. Many of us have written through kids and a good number of us with autistic children. Some write at the dining room table, earphones on, fingers tapping away. My method was to rise very early. Sometimes it helps to set a timer so the kids can see how much writing time is left. “No one bothers Mom until the bell rings!”

    The one thing we all know is that when the house goes quiet–time to scramble and check for the kids!

    Good luck with your writing. You are on the right track. Eventually your children will go on to other endeavors and you will have a wonderful writing career that you have patiently developed.

  7. Sandy Kenny
    Sandy Kenny11-01-2011

    Thanks for the reminder and the moral support! 🙂 I just sometimes need to remember to be patient and remember what is really important. Thanks again!!

"The Books You Love To Read. Three time winner of the Historical Love and Laughter award" - Cathy Maxwell