The truth about why you don’t have time to write

One of the most common excuses I hear from people who say they want to write but aren’t doing it is that they don’t have enough time to write.

If you’re attached to that excuse, you might not want to keep reading. (I’m feeling a little feisty today!)

I see frequent articles on the web about “how to find time to write” — and I’ve even written one of them myself (it’s good — you can check it out here) — and yet people are still not writing. This is interesting when you consider the fact that over 81% of Americans answered “Yes” when asked “Do you think you might have a book in you?” in a 2002 study from the Jenkins Group.

So the desire is there, but not the action nor the results.


What you’re telling yourself:

I know you think you are too busy and that you don’t have enough time.

I know you’re longing for a whole day off where you can finally sit down and focus on your Big Writing Project, but when that day comes, you remember that the laundry really needs to get done or that you promised Jane you’d go with her to that party and you don’t have anything to wear so you have to go shopping and while you’re out you remember that you forgot to… Well, you get the picture.

I also know you have too much work to do and the kids need you. And that those things are true.

I know you also want to write but you aren’t sure where to start or what to write about. I know you think you need to get a little farther along with your career and save some money (or get the right room or the right computer) before you can devote yourself to your writing career.

I know this because I was telling myself these same things for too many years to count.

And I know something else. These things? They are Not True — at least not in the larger sense.

Let me tell you what is True.

What is true is that the reason you are not writing is because you are scared.

You are scared that you don’t know how to write, or what to write about.

You are scared that your writing won’t be good enough, original enough, or that maybe someone else has already said it better.

You are scared to do the hard work of writing, and overwhelmed by the thought of such a big project.

You’re scared you might hurt people if you write your truth. Or disappoint them.

So you don’t give yourself a chance to do it.

This thing about time is just a story.

You can go on telling yourself that story if you want to, but we both know it isn’t true. Because we both know the real reason you aren’t writing is that you don’t believe in yourself.

I’ve found the time to write every single day after years of telling myself I didn’t have time. Years! And I’m busier now in my life than I ever was before.

Sometimes it exhausts me. But more often, it is the fuel that fires my LIFE. I found myself saying to my Writer’s Circle participants yesterday that you would have to fight me off with a sword to keep me from writing. And this from someone who thought she could never write fiction to save her life — except in her wildest dreams — up until a year or so ago. 

Here’s what else I know:

I know that if writing means as much to you as you say it does, you will find a way to make it happen. If you want some help, that’s what my Writer’s Circle is for. I’d love to have you join me.

“The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.”

To close, here’s a passage to inspire you:

“You know that the antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest?”

“The antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest,” I repeated woodenly, as if I might exhaust myself completely before I reached the end of the sentence. “What is it, then?”

“The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.”

~ An excerpt from Crossing the Sea by David Whyte, here.

Your Turn

What does this inspire for you? Let us know on the blog.




  1. Thank you Jenna for this blog of yours. I do read your posts, but don’t often comment. Through really listening to what you have been saying I have tried to make myself accountable to post a photo or image of mine every day on my blog. (even when I don’t think I’ve done my best!)

  2. Good for you, Marieke! I’m so happy to read that you’ve been posting your images every day. Your work is beautiful!

    Thanks for commenting. :)

  3. I really loved this – especially the article by David Whyte. I have actually done well at keeping up with my writing, but I am always fighting this overwhelming exhaustion from my day job. I know I would love to move on, but the truth of the matter is, I know I don’t want to have another job in an organization. And there is no one else to support me – I have to work. So, I push myself to work and do my writing in the morning before going to work. I have had such bad experiences workingat organizations and I ultimately know that I want to work for myself and write novels. But I also know that it is going to take time before my writing is finished and I don’t know if I have the patience to continue doing what I am doing. Any insight would be appreciated.

  4. David Whyte is a personal hero – I can just hear him saying this with weariness in his voice. Sounds suspiciously like the weariness I hear in my own voice. Hmmmmm…..

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