Why you haven’t written that book yet

A German backpacker writing in her journal

Almost every time people hear that I studied writing and editing or that I wrote a couple books, somebody says, “I think I could be a writer.” No doubt you could, I think. Everyone has ideas, and most people are not bad with stringing words together to form coherent sentences. Sure, lots of people could be writers. So why don’t more people do it?

For one thing, writing isn’t everyone’s sort of thing. The realities of writing full time are harsh. It takes a lot of work to draft a manuscript, and although writing takes a level of discipline most people can handle, most do not know how to form and implement a strategy. You choose where and when to write. You choose how to keep a schedule and how to wall off time for the task. You choose to not see friends and family and be a little more reclusive. You sometimes labor for long periods of time without getting paid for your work. These are all things that people find difficult, and honestly, often do not see much reward from.

The biggest barrier people express to me is that they do not have time to write. They have jobs and families and churches and civic groups and meetings. They have school and reading and reports to prepare. They simply do not have time to write. However, they have time to be at social functions, go to dinner, watch TV, go to the gym, go to coffee shops, play video games, and more.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that people should necessarily spend more time writing. All I am saying is that they do have the time but that writing is not important enough to them. It is all about setting priorities. You can’t do everything in life; you have to prioritize some things as more important than other things. That is important to realize.

My only request in all this is that if you want to write, make time for it. If you do not know how to do that, consider finding a mentor who can help. If you don’t want to write, that is fine. Just don’t tell me you don’t have time. You do have time. It is just less of a priority than other things in your life.