Life doesn’t permit…and other wise words on making time to write

Teachers Write starts in less than a week, and Cynthia Lord has some brilliant words of advice for us all.  Cindy is one of our Teachers Write guest authors; she’s the Newbery Honor writer of RULES, TOUCH BLUE, the HOT ROD HAMSTER series, and her latest, HALF A CHANCE.

Cindy shared something on Facebook this week that was so wise & wonderful, I asked her for permission to share it here as well:

Next Monday, Teachers Write begins. It’s a free online daily workshop with short writing prompts and lessons for teachers (or really, anyone!) to work on their own writing. Not how to write with kids. Your *own* writing.

All you have to do is sign up and you can do the program all five days a week or as life permits. But let me say something about “as life permits,” just so you’re prepared.

Life *doesn’t* permit.

The thing about writing (or other things you do for yourself to fill your own well), it’s always easy to put it last. And then it hardly ever happens. Or maybe it never happens.

So if writing is something you truly want in your life, you can’t always put it last. My first book, Rules was written between 4 and 6 in the morning every morning. I have a son with autism and our days have always been full of his schedule and his needs.

One day when he was about 5, I saw my writing books from college on my bedroom shelf and felt the pang of missing. I had given all that up for my children and to run his home program. I had no regrets about that, but I also knew that our life might never be less full of his needs, and I either had to make time for writing or I had to let it go without regret and find a different way to be creative in the world. Something that didn’t require the alone time that writing does for me.

I am not good at the end of the day. I’m a morning person. In those days, my son got up around 6 am. So I set the alarm for 4 am and thought, “I’ll do this for two weeks.” At the end of that two weeks, I will either give this up and find something else. Or I will make it work.

As of next month, I will have eight published books. At the end of 2016, I will have fourteen. I made it work.

Life doesn’t permit. First you have to make writing matter. Then you make the time for it. Then you make that time a habit. Writing is that still small voice that is easily drowned out by the hundreds of other voices of things you care about or should do.

But when you listen to that little voice and honor it and make regular time for it, it gives something back that’s precious and healing and true. . . it gives you back yourself.

I hope these gentle words from Cynthia Lord inspire you as much as they do me. And I hope that if you want to write, you’ll make time – and join us starting on Monday!


16 Replies on “Life doesn’t permit…and other wise words on making time to write

  1. What is it about this Cynthia’s advice that makes what I’ve heard a thousand times hit home with me? Maybe it was the phrase, “Life *doesn’t* permit.” Maybe it’s the part where she says you can’t always put writing last if it’s something you really want to do. Maybe it’s her busy life situation, and the fact that she realized her life might “never be less full of [her son’s] needs.” I’m not sure, but I find myself relating to her story because it seems my life is never “less full” of my family’s needs, my career’s needs, or my personal needs. Yes, I need to make the time to do this thing I love to do. Thank you for your post. I’m looking forward to Teachers Write! next week. 🙂

  2. Writing is my voice. Writing identifies who I am and what I believe. I can choose to be silent or I can take the time to write as I share my thoughts, hopes, dreams and ideas. Such an inspirational post by Cynthia. I must make time to write. Yea for the challenge of Teachers Write by Kate Messner.

  3. I love this. It is so true. I also love to write in the morning. But I do have a question, as someone who doesn’t do well with sleep deprivation. Would Cynthia mind answering? Does she go to bed really early or is she sleep deprived all the time? I’d have to go to bed at 8PM to get up at 4:00, but I can’t do that with kids and a husband. I write later in the day, but I’d love to hear how she manages things in the evening to make the 4AM wake up possible. And–I absolutely LOVE Rules!

  4. So happy to find this today. I have been blocked a bit lately and question whether my writing should have more “structure.” I do great with structure, plans, rules; but without some system of organization or knowing where to go next, I find that with my WIP, I have sentences and clues coming to me that don’t lead me in a new direction. Do I start with research, character flushing, storyboarding… Grrr… Teachers Write= Perfect Timing!!! 🙂

  5. So very true! We have to make it happen, no on else will do it for us. I am inspired!

  6. I feel like the stars have aligned! My vacation started last night, we’re getting slammed by Hurricane Arthur, and all I can hear are raindrops on our camper. It’s the perfect time to take back a little of my life for me! I’m a writing teacher with an autistic son, so I feel as if I just might be in the right (hehe) place for the first time in a very long time. I’m so excited to be part of this experience!

  7. Thank you for this post. It is too true for me – life *doesn’t* permit! Last summer I made time to write every morning while my boys were still sleeping and/or eating breakfast. Then the school year started and I didn’t make my writing time a priority anymore, therefore I ended up writing practically nothing all for 9 months. I need to make sure I put my writing needs first, before the day gets going and there’s no time. Can’t wait!

  8. Thanks for these words. I am so excited to begin writing again and looking forward to Monday.

  9. THANK YOU for this post! It is ABSOLUTELY true! Hobbies/Passions always come after work, children (and their activities), and housework/projects. This summer, life will permit.:)

  10. While I agree with what you are saying, for me, writing is just going to have to be a summertime thing for the time being. Since I am a teacher, I have the time write now. During the school year I only sleep from 11:30pm – 5 am already. I work and take care of 7 kids all day. The only “free time” I have is from 10-11 pm and that is the only time my husband and I get alone. I am not giving that up! I am excited to have plenty of time to write during the summer and will just have to make the best of what I have the rest of the year!

  11. Love that you said, “First you have to make writing matter.” So true – for us and for the students we teach. Often when I feel behind, writing is the first to go but…no more! This year we are writing first!

  12. Jen, that’s totally fine. I think it’s all about setting an intention and then following through with it–whatever that looks like for you. You may find, though, that creating a habit now means you write with your students when you’re asking them to write, for example. But I wouldn’t worry about that. It’s good to concentrate on now as a writer.

    Thank you all for your enthusiasm! I’m excited to be part of such a passionate group!