It Takes Audacity
By Kristen Stieffel
Making time for writing requires some audacity.
Working at a newspaper usually involves long hours, few breaks, and eating at your desk. Yeah, I used to do tech support for the newsroom, and let me tell you, desk eating results in some pretty nasty workspaces.
As writers we often complain about not having time. But is your employer really so mean that he won’t let you take a lunch break? I discovered—by the sheer audacity of trying it—that if I took my lunch break in the lunchroom, not only did my boss not complain, she congratulated me for it and was soon taking her lunch break as well. We’d sit on opposite sides of the table, she reading her book and me, with a laptop or page proofs to mark up, writing mine.
OK, I was still working during lunch, but it was my art, so it scarcely counted as work.
“Work is what you do for others…art is what you do for yourself.”— Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George
So reclaiming the lunch break was a success. But that was only thirty to sixty minutes a day. The only way to carve out more writing time was to continue audaciously asking for time back from people I’d given it to. Volunteer work. A church committee. Weekly dinner with the neighbors.
These were all good things, but I dropped them in favor of my writing, because my writing is a higher priority to me than those things. All it took was the audacity to say something like “I need to give this up to reclaim my time.” You don’t have to tell people you’re going to use the time to write. Although if you do, I think you’ll find that people will be supportive more often than not.
Besides, it’s great how clean your desk stays when you stop eating there.
Kristen Stieffel is a writer and writing coach, helping writers polish and nonwriters write. She is a member of Christian Editor Network and the Editorial Freelancers Association. Find her at kristenstieffel.com. Kristen will be speaking more about managing your time at the Mid-Winter Conference West and Reading Festival.