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Friday, March 01, 2013

Want to do More with Your Writing—Learn to Say NO

Sometimes saying yes means first saying no!
I don’t mean no to writing opportunities—say no to some other things in your life. We all only have so much time in a day. And if you’re like me, it’s filled to overflowing. So that means changing some priorities. 

Sounds easy, but for anyone who’s tried, it can be tough to carve out time for writing. 

Here are some tips I’ve used to help me realign my life.

  • Decide where you want to go with your writing. You don’t have to schedule your time to get there overnight, but to get there, you do need to know where you’re going.
  • Take an inventory at what’s happening in your life right now. This is also going affect how much time you can realistically spend on writing.
Decide what's most important.
Now answer these two question:
  1. What are you doing now, that you love MORE than writing?
  2. What are you doing now that you DON’T love more than writing?

These are the factors you need to consider to begin to map out a plan that works for you.

To help you see how to apply what you've learned I'll share my answers when I first started writing. This will help you see how it gave me a plan for my writing.

I was a stay-at-home mom with three school-age boys when I began. I had a goal to eventually earn a full-time living with my writing. I also didn’t want to loose family time or even what little adult time my husband and I had to spend together in the evening.

My writing schedule developed from these parameters.
My writing schedule developed from these parameters. Every night after family time, I’d retire with my husband. When he went to sleep, I’d get up and start writing. I’d usually write until three or four o’clock in the morning, then I’d go to bed.

In the morning, my husband would get up with the boys and get them off to school. I’d get up later in the morning and be fresh when the boys got home from school. It might have been unorthodox, but it worked perfectly.

What did I give up? Lunches with friends and other daytime activities. I also stayed on a budget so I could afford to attend at least two writing conferences every year.

I’ve never found a way to do it all. But I have discovered there is time enough for what I truly love.

What about you? How do you make time for writing?

Edie Melson is the author of four books, a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She’s also the social media columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and social media mentor for My Book Therapy. Connect with her through Twitter,  Facebook, and her popular blog for writers,


  1. A really good friend, Patty Smith Hall, taught me to say no. I've learned to prioritize what I say yes to. I've also learned when I do say no, I'm not ostracized, hated, or lose sleep. What does happen ... I write more!! ;o)

    1. Ane, I struggle with hating to disappoint others. In the past that's made me say yes, instead of no...and I ended up disappointing them even more!. It's been a hard lesson to learn.

  2. This is exactly what I need to hear at exactly the right time. I read another post here a week or so ago about prioritizing and genres that inspired me as well.

    God is calling me to listen this year, to re-prioritize, and to give my "other endeavors" to Him. I've wasted so much time. But it's never too late to start, right?

    1. Terri, you're right. It's NEVER too late to start! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

    2. Hard earned, yes, but the peace that comes when you learn it is great! :)

  3. Sounds easy, but really not that simple. I have to work full time outside the home. The house has to be cleaned at least a little. Laundry must be done. I totally get what you're saying, but it's just not always quite so simple as saying no.

    1. Carol, you're absolutely right. It's not simple. Often times the choices we make are tough. I know a lot of writers who also work a full-time job and have families. I can't begin to imagine how difficult that must be. But it can be done. I encourage you to keep juggling and not give up!

  4. Saying no is not only hard, sometimes it loses you relationships. I'm finding that out now. What's really interesting to me is that if I worked a full time day job (i.e. what people perceive as a REAL job) my friends wouldn't bat an eye when I said no.

    1. Lori Ann, I had that issue too. My husband also works at home, as an engineer, and he's had that issue as well. I think it happens to almost everyone whose office is in their home. It's sad to say goodbye to those relationships, but I've learned that they probably weren't all that stable to begin with. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. Thanks for the affirmation! God was slowly leading me towards making these hard decisions. My teaching day job leaves me with loads of evening homework, and precious little time for my husband, household chores, and then writing as well. I'm an avid hobby-collector who liked to think I could keep up with music, craft projects, recipe creations, reading whatever I felt like, etc.

    I went out and bought a whole new kit of cross-stitch supplies, convinced I was going to give those projects another go. They're still sitting in the plastic Michaels bag. That bag is a reminder that I have to grow up and learn to prioritize. Now I use every scrap of free time at school to get ahead in grading and lesson planning, get a few chores done, blast through homework, and then dive straight into writing until about 11 pm. My book reading schedule is limited to stuff I'm reviewing for my blog, stuff I'm researching to write about, and writing craft books. Otherwise, I have no life.

    As for friends? Usually it's whoever I chat with online while writing. My real-time friends are coworkers or the long-suffering librarians who happily take my late-fee payments. I save any special phone calls or letter writing for Sunday, and that's it.


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