Writing FAQ: how do you find time to write?
At a church leadersā retreat last month, we talked about having an I donāt do list as a way of making time for sacred pauses in life and ministry. The things we donāt do make it possible to do some other things. The things we say No to allow us to say Yes to other things.
So one pastor said, āI donāt answer the phone at home after 8 p.m.ā People can leave a message, and if itās urgent she will call them back; if itās not urgent that phone call can wait.
Another said, āI donāt go to every funeral in the community.ā In a small town, he knew most of the people even if they werenāt part of his own church, and he had started out with attending every funeral. But that got to be too much, so he is now more discerning.
A Sunday school teacher said, āI donāt do committees and have no guilt about it.ā I think that last part is key to any effective I donāt do list, and wow, Sunday school teachers are gold, so no committee work sounds like a good trade-off to me!
Having an I donāt do list also helps me find time to write. For some pastors, writing is actually part of their church workātheir blog posts, books, and speaking beyond their own congregation are considered part of their church time. For me, this blog and my other published work are quite apart from my church hours. Of course, I write sermons and church blog posts on church time, but if I counted all of my blogging here and other writing in the same way, thereād be no time for the other things my church has called me toāworship and preaching, leadership and admin, pastoral care, teaching, community outreach.
Hereās my I donāt do list that makes my writing time possible (in no particular order):
I donāt do personality tests.
No, I donāt know what colour aura I am, what ā80s cartoon character Iām most like, which Star Wars character, which animal, etc., etc. I havenāt even done the Enneagram, and I only know that Iām ENFJ on the Myers-Briggs because it was part of a denominational resource day.
I donāt do surveys, give donations, or buy services from people who call on the telephone.
The one exception is Big Brothers Big Sisters since they pick up any donated items from our doorstep.
I donāt cook or bake complicated recipes.
I love to cook and bakeānatural ingredients, healthy, simple, delicious, but more muffins than fancy cakes, one or two dishes instead of the gourmet 12-course meal. (Although if thatās on your do list, Iām always open to invitations!)
I donāt endorse people on LinkedIn.
I almost feel guilty about this one since Iāve received endorsements from others, and it would be most polite and social to reciprocate. But I know if I start that, it would snowball into one more thing that I just canāt handle.
I donāt mow the lawn.
We live in a townhouse where the lawn around us is more or less common property and looked after by others, and weāre responsible for just a small garden area.
I donāt keep regular hours.
I know the best sleep advice is to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day, but I vary from that considerably. Itās not unusual for me to be writing at 6 a.m. or well past midnight, though hopefully not in the same night!
I donāt use social media constantly.
I generally take at least a 24-hour social media sabbath from Saturday evening to Sunday evening and most often extend that until Monday morning.
I donāt do church work on my days off.
Or if I do need to see someone in the hospital when I should be on vacation, or take a meeting on my usual evening off, then I pay myself back with an equivalent time off some other time. To some, that might sound legalistic. (Arenāt pastors supposed to be available 24/7?) To others that may seem like a matter of course. (Isnāt pastoral ministry a profession like any other?) But Iāve talked with exhausted pastors who say they havenāt had a day off in 3 weeks or even 6 weeks. I read recently that 43 percent of Canadians do not take all of their allotted vacation time. I take all of the time off Iām eligible for, and use some of it to write.
Originally posted at Yamasaki's blog