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The Clock Is Ticking
by Kathryn Lay

I've taught my daughter that there are certain four-letter words that isn't polite talk. And yet, there is one word that often leaves a nasty taste in my mouth, a word that is both frightening and compelling. It's a word that gnaws at a writer's soul. It can give power or destroy.

I never have enough of this four-letter word. It often is an obsession. Time. It fills my do-lists, pushes me along, challenges me when I have enough, terrifies me when I don't.

Writer friends and students in my classes complain "if I had more time I'd..." or "Later, when my time is more free I'll..."

And oh, how quickly that times flies and we're still hoping and looking for more of it so we can reach our dreams and goals.

I have a list of writing goals for this year. Magazines I'd like to break into, books I'd like to complete...or start, brochures to undertake, information to learn. In between all those desires I still must find time to home school my daughter, help co-direct a large volunteer English school for refugees and immigrants, teach two online writing courses, attend a weekly critique group, work on various writing assignments, spend time with family and friends...and so on.

Everyone is busy. So how can we find a bit of extra time to attack our own writing fantasies?

Time can't be built, bought, sold, or rented. It has to be made, found, and borrowed from.

Dieters are told to make lists of what they eat, in order to see what they are putting into their bodies. People in debt are asked to list how and where they spend their money.

If you make a list of your time, where will you find your emphasis? Where can you borrow time from to see your writing dreams fulfilled? Television? The Internet? Housecleaning? Chatting on the phone?

I recently edited and rewrote a short article while in the car (not as the driver) on a trip to Austin for family fun. It was done by the time I got there and forgotten. Another article was outlined while waiting at the doctor's office. A query drafted while my daughter took a test during home schooling. I find that if I give up 30 minutes of television, I've got a chapter written, a quick draft of a story or article, or a couple of reprints submitted. I came up with an idea on the way to my daughter's haircut appointment, wrote it while during her appointment, rewrote and typed it, emailed and got an acceptance all in the same day.

Time is precious. Once it's gone, there is not getting it back. Money can be re-earned, knowledge relearned, but time comes around only once and is never reused, only replaced with different time.

We can’t get time back, but we can sneak up on it before it’s gone.

1. What are your time wasters? Which ones can you and are you willing to change for your writing? Watch one less television program or turn off the phone for an hour? Stop playing computer games when you’re afraid to write? Pick one and you’ve gained time every day.

2. Where do you have extra time that is normally spent talking on your cell phone or staring into space? Waiting for doctor appointments? Sitting in traffic jams or car pool lines?

3. What can you do to use those extra time snippets? Purchase a small recorder to carry with you? Keep an ‘idea pad’ in your purse or pocket or car and pull it out when there is time to mull over a new article or story line?

Take control of your time rather than letting time, or a lack thereof, control you.

So, what WOULD you do if you had more time?

Go and do it. It's time.

© Copyright 2003, Kathryn Lay

Kathryn Lay is the author of 26 books for children, over 2000 articles, essays and stories for children and adults and the book from AWOC.COM Publishing, The Organized Writer is a Selling Writer. Check out her website at www.kathrynlay.com and email through rlay15@aol.com

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