Making Time vs. Using Time

It’s all about perspective

As writers, we know the importance of words. The right word, used in the right way can evoke a powerful emotion, build connections, make people question the important things in life.

And yet we also fall into the trap of familiarity so much, and with words this can be a huge deal – the words we chose to use, or listen to, can hold us back or move us forward. 

Why is she rambling about this, you wonder? Because the other day I was scrolling through social media and saw several posts from aspiring and already successful authors about the importance of ‘Making Time’ to write. We’ve all heard it. It’s one of the most common tips – just make more time. Simple, right? And yet, so few of us do it. And we end up feeling guilty about it. So much so that, in my case at least, even the phrase gets my hackles up now. And I think I’ve realised that part of the reason is the very words being used.

In short, ‘make time’ sounds like work. If you make dinner it’s a proactive exercise. If you make a work of art, it involves a lot of effort. Personally I’m someone who, if I’m being honest, is put off by the idea of putting in a lot of effort. That’s not to say I won’t put the effort into something, but if I believe there’s a lot of effort required to achieve something, I often won’t even start. Basically, I need something to sound as lazy and unthreatening as possible for me to take action. So the very idea of ‘making time’ just sounds too hard. It sounds like I need to be actively doing something hard, and that’s before I’ve even started writing! No wonder I’m so resistant to it, in my head, I’ve got to do something hard to enable me to do something even harder. Unsurprisingly I rarely fancy a double-barrel challenge.

This realisation has led me to think about how I’d rather approach writing, and time management in general, and in summary for me it makes more sense to conceptualise it as ‘using time’, and I think there are a few reasons this appeals to me:

– I’m already doing it. I use my time in various ways throughout the day. Sometimes I use it more efficiently and productively than other times, but I’m always using my time in some form. So, instead of using my time to watch TV, why not use it to write a few paragraphs. It becomes a simple trade rather than an active process.

– It just sounds less like a sacrifice. Using time sounds far less active and effort-ful than making time. It also sounds less like I’m having to sacrifice something else in order to write. If I’m ‘making time’, in my head that means cutting something else out. I’m choosing to ignore my family, or chores in order to make the time to write. That just doesn’t appeal to me. But if I just use the time I have already available, then there’s no need to feel guilty about those other things, because I’m not using the time I allocated to them anyway.

– It’s more accurate. I’ve also realised that the concept of ‘making time’ is a misnomer. You can’t actually make any more time than what you have. You can use it, you can re-allocate it, you can schedule it, but you cannot ‘make’ time, so I think it’s time we stopped trying!

I should say that I am early on in this cognitive restructuring process, and there’s no guarantee that it will actually work in encouraging me to write more. But in theory, if I can reduce the barriers to writing, then it should be easier. And I acknowledge that it’s perhaps not perfect logic, but for me, I feel like this simple rephrasing could be an important switch in how I approach many things in life, and if it benefits my writing, then even better. 

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