Unless you’re living in a vortex where time doesn’t pass — hey, I do write science fiction now and again — all of us have the same twenty-four hours in a day. Part of being more productive as a writer certainly has to do with different tricks and techniques to increase the quality and quantity of our output when we actually sit down to write — improving our discipline, expanding our creativity, the things I’ve largely been focusing on for the past nineteen games. But what about just finding more time?
If you’re serious about becoming a professional writer, there’s no way around it: It’s going to take a huge time commitment. If you want to dabble and play at it, treating it like a hobby, you can do that on an ad hoc basis, but that’s just not going to cut it if you have lofty ambitions. You’re going to have to put in many hours of practice.
If you want more time, take a hard look at where your time is going now. What can you give up? One of the things I’ve mostly given up is television, which is a pretty big time sink for most of us.
Try giving it up for a week or a month. You might be amazed at how much more writing you get done.
Now, I’m not one of those people that claim that television is bad for you, or that there’s nothing on, or that it’s a mind control device used by the government to keep us from rebelling. I actually think there’s far more good shows than there were ten years ago. There’s also more terrible shows. There’s just more, which is why we have a bit of both. If you’re a discerning viewer, you can find some great stuff out there.
But here’s the thing. Time is a finite resource. We’re all going to run out of it eventually. My problem is not so much finding enough time to write, though I can always do better. My problem is that with a day job and two young children, it’s tough finding the time to read. And television, as good as it can be on its best days, is not reading. If you want to write teleplays, watch scripted television. If you want to write screenplays, watch movies. If you want to write short stories and novels, you must read short stories and novels. No way around it.
So my point is to set priorities. Giving up something bad for you, as hard as that is, is much easier than giving up something that’s good for you. Because, you know, consuming more story, in whatever form, can’t hurt.
However, if you’re not finding enough time to write or read, you might have to give up something else to find it. Television is a great place to start.
All posts in this series can be found at