3 Keys to Protect Your Writing Time from Being Crowded Out by Responsibilities

September 2, 2019

We live in a society that loves to overflow each day with pursuits. All too often, we pile on obligation after obligation. Our kids need a chauffeur, the church needs a Sunday School teacher, our mother needs a gardener, the writers group needs a speaker for next weekend, and the list goes on.


In the midst of all the busyness, though, we neglect the task we’re called to do: write.


I’m as guilty of this as anyone else. Currently, I’m taking care of my disabled husband and homeschooling our three kids while babysitting my baby nephew. On top of family life, I’m a writer, a freelance editor, and the marketing director for Realm Makers. That doesn’t even include the activities my kids are typically involved in!


My schedule is almost as vital as my Bible these days. And if I don’t allow room for writing, it usually doesn’t happen! I learned many years ago (when my kids were younger) that no one except me will make sure I get writing time, and preventing intrusions can be a struggle.


Family and friends don’t necessarily understand that writing needs to be treated professionally. Sometimes even writers forget and instead chase the next shiny opportunity. But, if we focus on three areas, we’ll stay on track.


1. Know Your Priorities

Ultimately, your priorities are between you and God, but you need to at least pinpoint where your energy is going. Maybe you believed a particular task was important to you, only for a more exciting prospect to push it to the wayside.


Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines priority as “something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives.” What aspects of your life merit the top spots?


Spend time in prayer and talk with your spouse/family, then jot down your answers to that question. This ingrains them in your mind so you’re more likely to stick to them. You can also refer to the list when you need to remind yourself why you are (or aren’t) investing in Item A over Item B.


These priorities might look like:


  • Relationship with God
  • Relationships with family
  • Writing
  • Community service
  • Church activities
  • Hobbies or recreation
  • Financial freedom

Priorities can be vast and varied because no two people will share identical values and needs. While others may disagree, I think priorities should be as specific as possible so you can see the scope of each one and determine whether future opportunities fit within it.


Priorities, however, are not goals. View priorities as categories that your goals fall under. Health might be a priority, while the associated goal would be to exercise four times a week.


Remember, priorities can change from season to season, so evaluate your list on a regular basis—whether monthly, semi-annually, or annually.


2. Set Your Schedule

Some people balk at the idea of following a schedule, which is unfortunate. A schedule can be strict or flexible. Its purpose is to give you a compass to direct your time, rather than allowing yourself to be guided by whims. Creating one is easy too.


  1. Outline all your current responsibilities and activities, then check whether those correspond with your priorities.
  2. If they do, add them to your schedule; if they don’t, throw them out! Of course, bow out of commitments respectfully—don’t just desert them!
  3. Maybe you think recreation should be excluded. But nonstop go-go-go is unhealthy. Leave space for fun and relaxation!
  4. Assess the time that’s available for writing based on open slots in your schedule and the hours when you’re most creative/awake. Not everyone is an early bird or a night owl.
  5. Develop the habit of reserving that time for writing. Start small if you need to, then incorporate more writing sessions until you’re meeting your daily/weekly goals.

3. Learn to Say No

This is advice we hear repeatedly—but how often do we take it to heart?


With each of the activities I mentioned in my introduction, someone must help out. Here’s a secret: that person doesn’t have to be you. You may be capable of filling a need, but that doesn’t mean you’re supposed to. With a system in place, you can keep the busyness to a minimum.


Imagine you’re at a normal 9–5 job with a boss and a paycheck. How would you respond if a friend invited you for coffee during work hours? In most cases, you’d have to say no and suggest meeting in the evening or on the weekend instead.


Consider bigger needs, like speaking at a writers group, more carefully. Does the event align with your priorities? Can you balance your schedule, or are you adding unnecessary weight? Ask God if this is an opportunity He wants to use you for.


Writing time is fleeting—especially if you’re not making a conscious effort to guard it. Priorities and a schedule will ease your mind when you need to turn down other acts of service. You’ll rest in the confidence that you’re listening to God’s desires for you.


Be the writer He called you to be.


How do you integrate writing into your schedule?


  1. Jane Maree

    So good to remember! I hate saying no, but I’m trying to get better at it.

    I used to hate schedules, but now they are saving my sanity and I love having lists for what I need to do each day. 😅

  2. Savannah Grace

    I love this article, Ralene – thanks for the reminder to stay focused on what’s important!

  3. Rose Sheffler

    “When you say ‘yes’ to something, you say ‘no’ to two or three other things.” I forget who told me this. But this article is a great reminder that we must prioritize and actively chose those things which we are called to. Thank you for this.


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