Common Writing Obstacle: TIME


By Henry McLaughlin

I’d like to explore some of the common obstacles every writer faces at least once in their career. Let’s begin with the obstacle of time.

“I think I’ve got a book in me if I could only find the time to write.” We’ve all heard this statement from would-be writers. We’ve probably said it ourselves. I know I have. And not that long ago. I’ve been writing for nearly twenty years, and I still have moments where it feels like I don’t have time to write. I’ve learned this feeling is the Lord’s way of telling me I have too
much on my plate.

There’s a false premise in this statement and it’s the idea we can find the time to write. The truth is, we’ll never find the time to write. None of us has a shoe box in the closet full of time to dip into every time we want more.

We each get twenty-four hours a day to eat, sleep, work, relate to the important people in our lives, recreate, and work on our writing. The cool thing is we get to choose how we spend most of that time. The tough thing is recognizing there is never enough time to accomplish everything.

How do we find the time to write? We don’t—we make the time to write. Jack London once said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” The same idea applies to time. You can’t wait for time, you can’t find time. You have to go after it with a club.

This means we prayerfully assess our schedules and reset our priorities. It may mean giving up something—like sleep. When I was working an outside job, I would get up at 4:30 a.m. to carve out one-and-a-half hours of writing time every day. That’s seven-and-a-half hours per week. That’s pretty close to a full working day. We can get a lot of words written in that amount of time. And still have the weekends free.

Is it easy to do? No, it’s not. It requires effort to make and stick to what are sometimes tough decisions. We negotiate with family, especially spouses, for writing time, asking them to respect this call on our lives. We learn to say “No” to a lot of things we would otherwise do.

Maybe we give up television or movies or sports. I know of one author who, in the early days of his writing career, wrote from 9:00 p.m. to midnight so he could spend time with his wife and small children.

Some writers write on their lunch breaks, others write one day a week, still others write while waiting in the doctor’s office. Got a few minutes? Don’t play games on your phone or check social media. Write. Even if it’s only a paragraph or a few lines of dialog, we’ve got more than we had a few minutes ago.

When we hear that voice in our ear—the nagging one saying we’ll never be writers because we’ve got too much else to do—we need to slap it like a mosquito, pull out our notebook or bring up a clean page on our device, list everything we need and want to do and start making some choices.

We can make the time to write.

What are some ideas you have to increase the time you have to write?

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash


Making time to write just might mean saying no to other things. via @riverbendsagas (Click to tweet.)


Tagged as “one to watch” by Publishers Weekly, award-winning author Henry McLaughlin takes his readers on adventures into the hearts and souls of his characters as they battle inner conflicts while seeking to bring restoration and justice in a dark world. His writing explores these themes of restoration, reconciliation and redemption.


Besides his writing, Henry treasures working with other writers and helping them on their own writing journeys. He is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. He regularly teaches at conferences and workshops, leads writing groups, edits, and mentors and coaches.


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  1. A good piece, Henry. Like you once had, I have a full-time job and a couple of part time ones, so when do I write? The same time you did . . . early in the morning, usually around 4:30. Thanks for the good advice. :)))


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