What? I can Write! Time is of the Essence

Time is of the Essence

Contemplating his imprisonment, Shakespeare's King Richard II laments, "I wasted time, and now doth time waste me..." As writers we need to wake up to the fact that wasted time is one of the most pervasive threats to our success. It kills our productivity and slows down our progress toward achieving our writing goals and dreams. Next to lack of discipline, nothing trips us up as much as wasting time. For that matter, time wasting itself reflects lack of discipline. We work for a while, but then our mind begins to wander and before we know it we are off on a tangent, consuming our writing time with activities or pursuits that add zero value to our productivity.


It is ironic that the very technological development that has liberated writers to be more productive and successful than ever before has also made it easier to waste time. I am talking, of course, about the computer. Writing, editing and publishing have never been easier than they are today because writers can do it themselves electronically. At the same time, a virtually unlimited number of time wasters are only a mouse click away. A time waster is not necessarily something bad; it is anything that drags you away from your writing unnecessarily. Do you really need to check your e-mail right now? Is it so important at this moment to check the news reports or the sports scores or the weather forecast? All of these and similar activities are fine in their place, but when they distract you during the time you have set aside for your writing, they become time wasters.

Guard your writing time jealously. Be ruthless with yourself if you have to be. Deny yourself those other pleasures until your writing time is done. Fill your writing time with productive work.

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