My friends and students often lament not being able to dedicate as much time as they'd like to their artistic practice. It's true for me too: I never feel like I'm spending enough hours on the manuscripts I'm juggling or on drafting new work or even just recording the contents of my day in a notebook so I can come back and make sense of them later. The advice I give to others (and to myself) is that all you need to stay engaged with yourself as a working writer is ten minutes a day. If you commit to spending ten minutes drafting and/or editing, you will build up over an hour of time dedicated to writing by the end of the week. It doesn't feel like much time as it's happening, but committing to ten minutes is what makes it possible to spend half an hour on your work when you have half an hour, or even a whole afternoon if it's available.
But sometimes holding yourself personally accountable is harder than you want it to be. It's easy to say you'll write for ten minutes a day and even easier to make excuses not to when faced with that commitment. Enter the workshop.
For people who aren't used to making time for their writing regularly, workshops are a godsend. They give you a regular deadline to write towards, a group of people invested in providing feedback on your drafts, and a space to make mistakes and keep going. In the years I've spent facilitating workshops I've seen people grow by leaps and bounds over the course of six weeks simply because they give themselves permission to fail but continue at the practice anyway. The only way you can become a writer is by writing. You could have the best story ideas or vocabulary or reason for wanting to write, but until you put anything on paper regularly, you can't call yourself a writer.
Most of writing is the willingness to make a lot of messes you'll end up setting aside when you finally get where you're going. Hours of effort to land on the perfect phrase, the best possible sentence. If you want a space that holds you accountable to that work and happen to be in Boston like me, another session of my workshop at the Boston Center for Adult Education is starting up in March. Read the course description and sign up here.