If You Can't Find Time To Write You're Not Trying Hard Enough

I went on a 5-day business trip at the start of February. Most days I started working at 8 am and didn’t stop until 8 pm that night. My days were filled with meetings, brainstorming sessions, and team-building events.

I’d get back to my hotel room every night exhausted. Knowing I had to get up the next day and do it all over again made it so much worse.

But I still found time to write. I wrote something every single day. Days before that trip started I committed to publishing new content every day in February.

Today is day 24, so this is the 24th piece of new content I’ve published this month. I’m 5 days away from finishing my goal and my backlog of ideas has never been bigger, my passion for writing never greater, and my motivation never higher.

Here’s how I’ve made time to publish every day this month.

Accept rejection

I’ve been rejected from every major publication on Medium, many of them multiple times. But you have to submit your work before you can get rejected. Rejection means you tried, and when it happens, so what?

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. - Wayne Gretsky

I welcome the rejection letters. I hold them close like a dear friend I haven’t seen in years. Those letters represent opportunities for learning, growth, and motivation.

Sometimes my rejections stem from not following the specific publication’s submission guidelines. That means I was sloppy with my submission and didn’t take enough time to proofread.

Most of all, the rejection letters are motivation. I get a little angry each time, thinking to myself you don’t want to publish my great work? fine. someone else will.

When it’s 9 pm and the last thing I want to do is write, I think of those rejection letters. If I don’t write during the hard times then those letters were right: I wasn’t good enough.

So I sit my ass down, get out the laptop, and write.

That’s not a hypothetical scenario, it’s me right now, writing this post.

You have to make time

Your writing isn’t going to happen on its own. I wish the words would just magically appear on the page, but they won’t. If writing is important to you then you have to make time for it. Look at what you spend time on, and ask yourself one question:

Is this more important than writing?

If it is more important, great! If not, and it’s also not necessary to live (please don’t stop eating), then you should write instead of doing that thing.

Here’s what I’ve managed to do this month:

  • Spend quality time with my wife
  • Hang out with my friends
  • Go to concerts. Pinegrove put on a great show in Austin last weekend.
  • Work a full-time job as a digital marketer
  • Started a weekly newsletter
  • Workout 5 days a week

I’ve done all of that and still published every day because writing is important to me. I don’t watch tv, I don’t go out drinking often, and I don’t waste time on unnecessary bullshit. I write.

If you’re struggling with finding the time to write, it’s time to take a hard look at your other activities. Chances are you’ll have to cut some of them out if you want to achieve your goals. No one ever said progress is easy.

Perfect is the enemy of good

I’ve spent days writing and editing the perfect post, only to have it get rejected from multiple publications. I’ve also had drafts that I thought were sloppy and cobbled together in 45 minutes be accepted.

You could spend forever honing that perfect post, or you could publish it and move on. I’ve had to embrace that some of my posts won’t be as polished as I would like if I want to achieve my goal.

That last part is the key to everything. If I want to achieve my goal. I have a 24-day streak going and I’m sure as hell not going to let anything break it, least of all a post that’s in rough shape.

If you’re anything like me then you set a really high bar for yourself. If you feel like a piece of content is falling short of that bar then you hold onto it, refining it for days until it’s ready to be seen by the world.

My advice? Write today, edit and publish it tomorrow. Two days, that’s all you get. Create an artificial deadline that you have to follow. The cycle of endless edits and re-writes stems from a lack of a firm goal.

If you absolutely have to get something published then you’ll find a way to get it done. Eventually, your post will be good enough, and that’s the ideal state.

Don’t let perfect become the enemy of good enough. Publish and move on.

There’s no best time to write

My most productive writing sessions are in the morning. I wake up before my wife, have a cup of coffee, and sit on my couch to write. I sit there for an hour pouring my heart out onto the page, totally uninterrupted and compose the most beautiful post the world has ever seen.

Do you know how often that happens? Maybe once a week, if I’m really lucky.

What actually happens is I’m constantly interrupted, I get writer’s block, or my dog wants attention. It’s really hard to tell my dog no.

So I carve out 10-minute chunks of time throughout the day to write. I’ve written between sets at the gym. I’ve written during my lunch break. Hell, I’ve written on conference calls that didn’t need my full attention.

You can fantasize about your perfect writing setup, or you could find time to write whenever you can. Some of my best ideas have come from short writing sessions while I was in between tasks.

There is something romantic about the idea of writing, but the act itself is much less romantic. It can be ugly, angry, and frustrating. The perfect time to write is elusive, so do it whenever you can.

Wrapping Up

Publishing new content every day is really freaking hard. Don’t get me wrong, this has been a challenge I am not likely to repeat next month. I’m looking forward to taking a little break from the daily need to publish. But it’s been so worth it.

My view count on Medium exploded due to simple math. More stories = getting published more often = more views. I’ve had to make some sacrifices in my life to make it happen but I would do it all again.

I’ve learned to accept that good enough is good enough, and that striving for perfection stood in the way of achieving my goals. I had to cut out unnecessary bullshit from my daily life to make time to write. I’ve had to accept rejection and turn it into motivation.

If you can’t find time to write, then you’re not trying hard enough.

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