When I talk to many of the people I knew in my high school or college writing programs, many of them will say to me, "You're so lucky. I really want to write, but I can't find the time."
As an administrative assistant, a lot of what I do is scheduling. I take the things that my bosses want to do and I distill them into a controlled chaos. I try to make everything fit, even when it's not perfect - especially when it's not perfect. Sometimes I get lucky, and things work out. And the rest of the time I can often be heard saying things like "Did you have your heart set on eating that day?" or "How much do you hate that hotel?"
So I spend most of my weekdays doing that, and then I go home and attempt to be my own scheduler. I am generally much less successful.
I would like to take a moment to express my deepest admiration to those of you who have spouses and kids. Y'all have superpowers. Or barring that, Time Turners. As a 23-year-old single woman, I have very few responsibilities, but even I don't have enough hours in the day. I get off work at 5:30, I get home around 6:30, I make myself something quick for dinner, and then I get straight to revisions. Even though I've been out of college for more than a year, I feel like I'm still trying to nail down the rhythms of post-collegiate life, to varying levels of success.
Some nights I'm much more productive than others. Sometimes my brain is on, sometimes it's off. It's certainly off by the time I'm done writing for the day. And then other things get ahead of me. The apartment's upkeep gets ahead of me. Laundry gets ahead of me. Comcast crashes again. My exercise regimen gets shot to hell. I abruptly remember that I need to allow some social time so my friends and family don't think I'm dead. That sort of thing.
The strange thing that happens with these busy days is that people get so overwhelmed with everything they have to do, they'll just leave all of it undone. They can't do everything, so they won't do anything. Some days I feel like that, and I know that weekdays are going to be haphazard. But that's why, on Fridays, I act as my own scheduler and I plan my weekend. Besides writing, what am I going to take care of? What two or three big things am I going to catch up on in my free time?
That simple method just makes everything feel more manageable, and getting non-writing things done lets me get so much more work done on writing. Productivity just creates so much energy and confidence. Instead of lying around and watching bad television all weekend, I feel like I can do anything. I can finish this tough rewrite! I can figure out what I want to do with this scene! I can go buy a shoe rack! (Don't judge. That's the best purchase I've ever made.)
So I tell my former classmates that I understand. It's hard enough to figure out how to function as an adult without adding writing to the mix. It's not an easy thing to settle into at all. But I'm learning how to be my own scheduler. I take the things I want to do and I distill them into a controlled chaos. I make everything fit, even when it's not perfect - especially when it's not perfect. And that's how I find the time to write.
I'm still trying to figure out where sleep fits into all this, though.