It’s tough. Between your full time gig (whether a job, school, or something else entirely) and taking time to unwind, it can be hard to find the time to write. For most, writing is not of any significant importance, unless strictly necessary — this seems to be especially true of engineers. For those that find writing an important avenue through which to express themselves, not being able to find the time can be a very difficult, daily battle of guilt versus obligation.
I don’t write much publicly (mostly random thoughts on Twitter and Facebook — hardly proper writing), but I am a frequent letter-writer. I have been fortunate enough to travel in recent years and, as a result, have friends in many places around the world. It can be difficult to stay in contact with these friends when time zones vary widely and an unspoken expectation of immediacy of response is present on Facebook and over email. Letter writing is a respite from these pressures. When I receive a letter, I can take a day or two to think of what it is I wish to send and send out the letter several days later. This is of no significant consequence to the recipient (time-sensitive communication is handled via electronic means), so I can take my time. But how do I find that time?
I have a 9 to 6 job, so I am out of the house before 9 and not home before 6:30 most days. When I get home, I like to cook dinner and catch up on GitHub issues for the various open source projects I follow. Before I know it, the clock strikes 9pm and I have to decide what it is I ought to do with my remaining hours awake that night. Often, it’s entirely devoted to responding to open tickets on Jekyll or one of its related projects. I feel obligated to ensure that the project moves forward and that it’s not left stagnant. The only trouble is this eliminates my writing time.
When I write letters (and blog posts), I sit down for hours and write. I write and write, editing along the way and at the end a bunch of times. The message must be right. The flow must be right. The word choice must be right. Rationalizing this quantity of time to put words to paper can be difficult. It would be easy for me to address 30 GitHub issues in the time it takes me to write a letter.
The key to my continued letter writing? It’s all about fun. I write because I have fun writing. I enjoy the challenge of putting words together into (mildly) coherent sentences. The key is to make writing a pleasant experience. Will anyone really care about what it is you’re writing? For a letter, usually just two people. For a blog post, probably just you. But to write for the hell of it — because it is an exciting exploration of the language — is a heck of a motivator. Little pressure, lots of potential waiting to be unraveled.
So write for the fun of it. Find time to write because it’s fun. Don’t put pressure on yourself — that only makes it easier to avoid. That hour you spend watching TV? That could be spent writing. Your hour-long commute? Dictate a blog post to yourself and write it out once you’re home. Feed on the excitement of crafting an idea’s form. Make it your own and just have fun.