I know, easier said than done. It doesn't help that I spend two hours of each weekday commuting (yes, I am great friends with the 405). But when you want to do something, when you're chasing the thing you love doing, you just have to suck it up. Figure out how much time you need every day to write or create and squeeze it out of your schedule. It could mean giving things up. Honestly though, if you're not willing to sacrifice time spent watching TV or sleeping or playing video games here and there, it's probably not something you are crazy about doing. I mean, I have time to exercise. I could easily fit that into my schedule. I could get up thirty minutes earlier or take a run when I get home from work, but I don't want to make time for it.
I realize I have it easier than someone with a family. I just have cats and myself to look after, not kids. But I take my inspiration from a guy (Travis Hanson, creator of the Eisner-nominated webcomic The Bean) who has a full time job and a large family and he manages to chase his dream. He has a saying, "Don't tell me how bad you want your dreams to happen, show me." Such a simple statement but so easy to follow. I repeat it like a mantra. Don't just talk about doing the things you want to do, actually do them. For me, it means making myself write even when I don't feel like it and even when I am exceptionally tired. Especially at those times. It means writing when you have no "inspiration." You'll definitely go through periods when you feel like what you're typing or trying to create is worthless. You'll feel like you can't write and should never sit down in front of a keyboard or pick up a pen again. You can't let it stop you from trying though (I often pick up Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones when I'm having bad writing days just to get my brain moving again).
Actually, that's not entirely true. Sometimes if you are obviously hitting a wall, it's good to walk away. I trust you're able to recognize when you're at one of those places.
I don't really have a set schedule either. I could be better about that, but I don't have a set amount of time I spend writing each day. I do have a writing calendar. I know what articles are due when and where and when I want to post on my blog. I keep track of random ideas for articles on that calendar. I make a list of things I need to write every night, and I have a side list of pitches I want to work on and I'm just starting preliminary research on a book. I often bribe myself with rewards for finishing articles. And they are silly awards - like watching an episode of a TV show or having a glass of wine or cookies. That makes me sound like I'm 12, but it works for me. I've also learned that I work better late at night rather than early in the morning. So I stay up. I try to always get at least five hours of sleep, and usually it's more in the neighborhood of six-seven. I also make it a point to make some time to read. That's important to writing (I still don't read as much as I'd like to).
This sort of makes me sound like I'm a crazy self-disciplined person who never has any fun. Neither of those things are true. I am the queen of procrastinating. It's actually kind of embarrassing. That habit has caused me more than a couple of almost sleepless nights meeting deadlines. Since I recognize that about myself and know that it's hard for me to switch out of that lifelong habit, I kind of plan for it. I trick myself sometimes. I also make sure my schedule has time for hanging out with friends and going neat places. Sometimes the fun doubles as work. I had the best possible day visiting Rancho Obi-Wan with friends, but I also did a couple of interviews while I was there. It's okay to do both at the same time.
My schedule's not perfect. I know I'd get more done if I did things like ignore Twitter and Facebook and just generally managed my time better. I have an okay balance right now though, and I feel like I'm still making forward progress. I might be inching rather than running, but still. Forward.
What do you guys do to make time for the things you love?