“Books are written with time stolen from other people”


It’s a word that plays on repeat in my brain. On a good day I’ll only hear it once or twice. On a bad day it plays a song that lasts from the moment my eyes open to the second I finally drift to sleep.

One of the things that I struggle the most with writing is the selfishness that it requires. I don’t mean the Golum hoarding type of selfishness, I mean the ‘I have to go lock myself in my bedroom for the entire evening rather than hang out with my friends/family’ sort of selfishness.

I’ve always been very bad at saying no or not doing something for someone else. I am a people pleaser at my very core, and I struggle with any time I have to say no to doing something for someone. I have a terrible case of balloon hand where I volunteer for tasks that pop up and cut away from my time.

I want to help everyone and do everything for all of the people I care about. I will drop everything and drive eight hours through the night if someone really needs me to. But the problem with that is that I constantly give away time that I need to spend on my writing.

What I probably struggle the most with is writing in the evenings when my roommates are home. I adore my roommates and it’s rare that we’re all home at the same time so I want to savor that, but I struggle to get much work done when camped out in the living room half listening to a conversation, and half plotting on how to kill the troublesome centaur in chapter 3.

I’m half way everywhere and getting nothing done.

I recently read the quote that became the title of this post, “Books are written with time stolen from other people” and as much as I’ve searched the Internet I can’t figure out who said it (if you know please tell me!). But this quote is probably one of the truest things I’ve ever read. The time spent on writing is time not spent doing something else, and a lot of  that means cutting time with people you love.

How do you get around it?

For me, I’m starting to adjust myself to getting up earlier in the morning and trying to write then. I’m looking at a few other options to see if I can make the time I need without feeling like I’m cutting contact with the people I love, because while writing can be a lonely job, you need contact with people and a support network for the inevitable swings that writing brings.

I think this problem is particularly an issue when you work full time, because after that 8-10 hours a day are gone, there’s not many hours left to fit in everything else. To everyone with children, and spouses, I admire your dedication even more. I’m single, childless and still stress about time on a daily basis.

The truth of the matter is that there is no way to just magically ‘find’ time in your day like a discarded nickel found in the washing machine. You make time, you carve it out from the flesh of the day and you have to leave pieces behind because there just isn’t enough to go around. The important thing is to be aware of what you’re cutting out, and to take control of the hours you can free.

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  1. donellelacy Said:

    I know this feeling! In my case, it’s less time stolen from other people and more time stolen from myself when I have to choose what I work on and when. (Do I work on illustrations or writing? My flash fictions or my YA fantasy series?) I’m single and childless too, and I have to admire those with families who still find time to write. They make time. It’s inspiring!

    I think this will always be a balance thing, and I’ll probably always struggle with it until I can find a time management trick that works for me. I hope you find your trick soon.

    Thanks for posting!

    • Andi Judy Said:

      Oh gosh, the struggle of what to work on is just as crazy! I feel like the balance idea will always be a struggle too, but maybe one day I won’t feel like it’s always winning the fight!
      Thanks for commenting!

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