Finding Time versus Making Time

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to write something, but felt I didn’t have the time.

I can’t count that high.

Something always takes precedence, planned or otherwise, and so my plethora of ideas continue to roll around in my head. The lucky few get written in a notebook or on a sticky note, but many disappear into the cerebral nether.

As many already know, I am currently expecting my second child in May, which puts a huge chunk of pressure on my shoulders. Nothing I do feels like it’s enough to prepare, I constantly feel swamped with work and home life, and my writing has absolutely taken a backseat in the chaos. It’s disheartening to know stories I love and want to finish are just sitting there, all but abandoned, but I just can’t find the time for them.

A few months back, I sat down with the publisher of a local newspaper to discuss what I should do if I wanted to become a columnist, and he, too, explained he felt as though he had too many ideas and too little time to make them a reality.

And the people who do end up writing them all have one thing in common: they made the time instead of waiting for it to magically appear.

Thing is, there are no neon signs that direct you to “Write Now” or fairies in your ear that yell at you until you put pen to paper.

The trick, as you’ll hear over and over, is to just do it. 

But what does that mean, really?

A place to start might be to make 15 minute work breaks dedicated to a few paragraphs or an outline. Give yourself one evening a week when you are left alone with your writing. Take an hour before bed or as soon as you wake up to crank out a chapter or short story. Make it one of the most fulfilling part time jobs you’ll ever have.

If you really want to complete a particular work, or set of works, don’t stop making the time to see them through.

Most of the writing I get done is in my leisure time (when I’m on break at work or at home and the only one awake in the house). I take advantage of comfortable, sunny days and go sit outside with a notebook or my laptop during lunch. On the weekends when my kid is napping, I spew some words onto a page that may or may not ever turn into anything more.

And I learned something, too.

When I started to swap out my usual TV series catch-up time to instead draft my own stories, I realized just how much time I spend watching Netflix or playing video games. All that time I was undoubtedly appreciating someone else’s work, I could have been nurturing my own.

All this is not to say you should sacrifice the things that help you relax after a long day, so by all means keep up with those still alive in The Walking Dead or enjoy a quick binge session of Vampire Diaries, but know the writers of those shows (and the books they originated from) put in the time to make their ideas into something more than just a passing thought.

Treat yours the same way they treated theirs: don’t let them sit too long on the back burner and risk losing them for good.


Did this article help inspire you? Let me know in the comments! And be sure to check out our other Tips & Tricks articles:

Please feel free to share any additional tips or your personal experiences with writing/blogging in the comments, and stay tuned for more prompts every Thursday!

How to Use Pathos to Maximize Your Reach 

Please feel free to share any additional tips or your personal experiences with writing/blogging in the comments, and stay tuned for more prompts every Thursday!

We’ve talked about ethos, pathos, and logos a lot in school. In my college philosophy course, there was an entire unit devoted to them. What I’ve learned since then is that these three concepts are HUGE in the marketing world. To get people hooked, to draw them in, you have to give them something they want–to appeal to something inside them that incites that index finger to smash that clicky mouse button.

For most of my posts, pathos tends to be the most effective of the three tools. I toss this up to content creation and writing being very emotionally driven activities, so my most successful posts tend to make the audience feel something (whether it’s great, good, bad, awful, or a little bit of everything instead of just the typical pathos concepts of pity or sorrow).

Now, a lot of my personal blog traffic comes from Pinterest and other image-heavy social media outlets. That said, I have to not only tailor my content to be verbally interesting, but my images as well (which I discuss in Why You Need Featured Images For Your Blog Posts).

Sometimes, I use a photo that corresponds with the prompt or article’s concept (like the one attached to this article that likely led you here), but other times a solid black or white background with the text is just as effective. In that regard, I’d encourage you to play around with design and typography to see what works, while keeping in mind that if something wouldn’t catch your attention, it probably won’t catch anyone else’s.

But I digress.

While you’re experimenting, take note of how different images succeed or fail, and try to identify themes. I do this with my content by monitoring individual blog post traffic (which ones get the most like/comments/views) and by monitoring my Pinterest pins (which ones get the most likes/repins/tries and how quickly they grow over time).

This kind of research tells me exactly what my audience likes, so I can focus on making applicable content for them. This process also helps me stay engaged with that audience, which is crucial to success. If something absolutely does not work for someone, I want to know why and–more importantly–how I can fix it in the future. If something is the most amazing thing someone has ever seen, I want to know that, too, so I can continue to produce interesting and useful content.

By keeping up with each post and pin, I am able to assume five things:

  1. Images with photos are not very successful on their own,
  2. Images with plain backgrounds and contrasting text are highly effective,
  3. Thrilling/suspenseful prompts are more successful than abstract concepts,
  4. Shorter prompts are better received,
  5. Fantasy prompts are a clear favorite.

These exact points might not translate to everyone, but they’re the kind of insights I have gained and encourage you to try to gain. It’s clear from these points that the people in my audience are drawn to more jarring, emotionally-laden prompts, so that is what I have been trying to deliver via pathos-inspiring prompts.

Perhaps your audience wants great money-saving tips like in Making Cents of Sense, or perhaps they want fashion advice à la Writes Like A Girl. These ladies have figured out what attracts their audience, and mastered delivering that kind of content.

And you can, too.

Start with an idea. Does it stir up something in you? Call you to action? Make you want to grab your notebook/sketchbook/etc.?

If it doesn’t, move on until you find something that does.

If it does, use it. Push its boundaries. Flesh it out into something you’re satisfied with.

Creative types are generally driven by our desires. If you make something that creates a longing in you, chances are it will create a similar longing in someone else. This is true for blog posts, stories, poems, artwork, and so much more. Share it, but if it falls flat, try to figure out why. Then, use that knowledge to try something a little different, and keep the cycle going until you hit your goal.

Have some writing tips & tricks you’d like to share or see discussed in future posts? Let me know in the comments! And be sure to check out our other Tips & Tricks articles: