One of the most difficult things that we must do as writers is set boundaries. Boundaries at work, with family, with friends, and even with ourselves. Even the people who cheer us on and offer support need reminders that we need time to write. It’s easy for others to dismiss our writing as a hobby or something that just keeps us busy. They can’t understand why it’s so important to us or exactly how difficult it can be at times. As I’ve probably mentioned before, my husband, who is extremely supportive, once told me that the reason that I wanted to take the writing class rather than the accounting tax class was that writing was easy and fun and the tax class wasn’t but I should take the tax class because it would be useful in my accounting career. That made me so angry and I let him know that writing could be fun and easy at times but it isn’t always. So why do it? Because even when I’m struggling with my writing, it’s a part of me that I can’t/won’t give up and I love it…usually. Anyway, we have to make sure to protect our writing time. It’s easy to say you’ll stay a little late at work or that you’ll do some chore at home or go out for drinks with the girls for an hour or two then realize that you’ve gone past that time frame by a couple of hours or that you’re just going to watch one episode of your favorite Netflix series then you end up binge-watching the entire series. I’m not saying that you should cut everything out of your life in order to write. You just have to be more aware of the time that you do have so that you can make the most of it. If you’ve set aside a few hours on Saturday to write, don’t let yourself be guilted into doing something that you don’t have to do or want to do. All you should have to say is that you need/want to spend the time writing. I’m the worst about telling people no. I’m a people pleaser and I don’t like tense situations so the word no is a bit foreign to me. I’m currently cutting back the extra time I spend at work so that I have time for other things, including writing, in the evening. I’m also working on the amount of time that I waste each week. I really should document that time so that I can see where I spend my time. 5 minutes here and 15 minutes there and an hour here, over a week’s time, can add up to a big time suck but it happens in such relatively small increments that we don’t notice it until we get to the end of the week and we haven’t written anything and wonder where the time went. I am the usually the guilty party when it comes to misusing my available time. I can’t often point the finger at anyone else, it’s just me. So when I start setting boundaries, I have to start with myself. Maybe you do as well. Or maybe it’s your job or your partner or friends. All I know is that we do have to guard our time otherwise it just slips through our fingers. Again, don’t cut out everything and everyone. We need downtime and time with loved ones and friends. We just need to be more aware of how we’re spending our time and then, if necessary, set boundaries with ourselves and others. That’s how you finish a book! Or so I’m told.
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