One of the most important things we can do for our writing is to give it time. Uninterrupted, focused, committed - and yes, a little selfish - time.

Why then, does it feel difficult to make that time? Why do so many of us (myself included), find it difficult to protect our dedicated writing time?

Perhaps we feel silly, maybe it's self-indulgent or foolish to pour all of that time and energy into a hobby that might seem frivolous or intangible to some? Writing isn't really a defined, quick task that can be checked off neatly on a to-do list - or at least, not if you're considering a long form project like a book. It might be a long time before we get any good at it, before it becomes financially viable (if that's the aim in the first place), or before we even finish the thing and get to show it off.

It's also a strangely guilt-inducing feeling. Spending time alone, time that's purely ours and not spent helping or serving or simply being there for others is always going to be less socially acceptable than just saying yes to whatever we're asked, whenever we're asked to do it.

protect your writing time by learning to say no

But without those boundaries, without protecting that time where we really focus and prioritise on our writing projects - progress is really going to take a hit. And when progress slows, it takes your enthusiasm and motivation along with it.

When we dedicate that time in serving our own needs, dreams and passions, we actually are serving those around us indirectly. Seeking contentment, connecting with creative purpose, and embracing the slowness of creating makes us kinder, happier humans. It might make you less snappy with your kids, more productive and efficient at your day job, a better communicator or problem solver in your relationship.

When you put it like that, it's not so selfish to set those boundaries and practise saying no sometimes, is it? And if you need a little extra nudge to really own the time you set aside to write, and give yourself permission to start saying no - it's something we can tackle together through the mentoring I offer.

Three things to try saying no to:

  • Going out when you don't even want to. If going out feels like a chore or a hassle, if it's not a special occasion or anniversary, or even if you're just tired and want to relax before a writing session - your friends or colleagues will understand that you can't get drinks or go out for dinner.

  • Taking on extra responsibilities at work or home / going above what's expected of you - it's not your job to take on overtime, or bear the burden of an unfairly weighted share of the household chores all of the time.

  • Sharing activities you're not interested in with a family member or loved one. Just because they want to watch a reality tv show every night doesn't mean you have to. Being a part of someone's life doesn't mean spending every second together - you can do things that are just just for you, too.

are there any tasks that you could say no to in order to protect your creative time?