This post first appeared December 30, 2016 on Janet Sketchley’s blog, “Tenacity.”
Having read Kevin DeYoung’s newest book, Crazy Busy, I came face to face with what I already knew: I spend far too much time doing things that don’t actually propel me toward my goals.
My word of the year for 2016 was more, as in more time spent writing and editing, more time spent in prayer and Bible study, more time seeking the Lord with my hubby and our daughter. My lack of success in these areas could be because I wasn’t focussed on the flipside of the coin.
If we’re going to achieve more, something has to give. We have to do less of something else.
So how does this apply to writing?
We must refuse to fritter away our discretionary time.
“Discretionary time? What discretionary time?” you may ask.
But let’s be honest. Do we watch even half an hour of TV most days? Do we spend far too much time on Facebook and the other social networks? Do we spend hours each week waiting on our children—at sports practice, music lessons, and other extracurricular activities?
You don’t need hours and hours of uninterrupted time to write a book—and certainly not a blog post or an article. There was one author I heard about who wrote an entire book in 20-minute increments during his lunch break. Amazing!
DO THIS: Take a look at your schedule and see where you can “steal” 20 minutes here, an hour there.
We must learn to say no.
Many—if not most—of us are not only busy, but we keep taking on more and more responsibilities. If you’re like me, you don’t want to miss any opportunity that comes along. Thankfully, I’m learning to say no; I’m learning to focus on what’s already on my plate; I’m learning to take on less.
Lysa TerKeurst wrote a book called The Best Yes. It’s about analyzing why we say yes when we are already overtaxed and really shouldn’t be taking on anything more. The book also addresses the importance of saying no or not now so we will be free to say yes when God brings a specific opportunity across our path.
If we feel God has called us to write, we must free up dozens—if not hundreds—of hours. We may find some time by restructuring our discretionary time, but very likely we’ll have to make even more significant changes.
DO THIS: Prayerfully examine your To Do list and choose one or more time-consuming items you are willing to eliminate in order to have more time to write.
We must spend less time making excuses.
There are legitimate reasons we don’t put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, but excuses often outnumber these reasons.
That voice in our head that says …
“Everything that needs to be said has already been said—far better than you could ever express it.”
“Writing is a selfish endeavour. Think of your family and friends.”
“You may squeak out the time to write, but you don’t have the time to hone your skills.”
“And you certainly don’t have the funds needed to get your work published.”
“God didn’t really call you to write. You’re delusional.”
DO THIS: Identify the #1 obstacle that keeps you from writing and create a game plan to crush it. The first step is often to simply pick up that pen or open that Word doc and get writing.
And what will I be doing over the next weeks and months? Hopefully, taking my own advice.
What are your writing plans for 2017?
Contributed by Stephanie Nickel, CES writer and editor