September 8, 2020
“I want to be a writer,” an acquaintance said to me recently, “but I just don’t have the time.” I nodded understandingly. But what I really wanted to say was this: “Then you don’t really want to be a writer.” Writing takes time. That’s just the nature of the beast. It requires commitment, just like any discipline.
Easy for me to say. If you were to ask me where I find the time to write, I’d have to admit that I have hours of it available to me each and every day. Then again, writing is how I earn my living. In fact, it’s the only way I earn my living. And not having any other vocation frees me up considerably to do the one thing I love to do more than anything else—ghostwrite.
I start my day at 5:30 a.m., sometimes earlier. Best time of the day, as far as I’m concerned. While the rest of the world is still asleep, I’m enjoying my first cup of coffee and checking the news and reading emails in the office I’ve built onto my home. By 6:00, I’m working, although it doesn’t ever really seem like work to me. That’s the way it is when you’re doing something you love.
I try to set a goal of putting down a thousand words by 7:30 a.m., but it depends on the project. If it’s a fresh, new chapter I’m working on, I can write pretty fast. If I’m rewriting or editing or polishing, sometimes it goes a little slower. I might rewrite an important passage eight or ten times before I’m happy with the end result.
At any rate, I’ll break at 7:30 to go for a quick jog around the neighborhood (okay, so some days it’s more like a brisk walk), then have breakfast, shower, shave, dress, and grab that all-important second cup of joe. By 8:30, I’m back at my desk where I’ll work steadily until 10:00 or 10:30 before taking a coffee break. (Five minutes. Maybe ten.) Then I’ll work until noon when I break for lunch.
In other words, by lunch, I’ve already put in about five hours of writing. By lunch!
Afternoons are a little different. I might write another hour or two, but my best time for writing is in the morning. For me, afternoons are better for doing client consultations. Otherwise, I’ll focus on paperwork and other administrative functions. I’m running a business, after all. There are accounting tasks and marketing projects to tend to. But if I find myself spread thin on any given day, those jobs take a backseat. The writing comes first. Always the writing. I’ve learned that if I take care of my clients, the business will take care of itself.
Whatever the agenda, I’m typically in my office right up until 5:30 or 6:00, about twelve hours after I started, in other words. Monday through Friday. (Saturdays I work half days.) And that’s what it takes to be a successful ghostwriter. Yes, it’s a lot of self-discipline (I have no supervisor), but there’s something that comes even before that. And that something is time. If you’re one-hundred percent committed to your craft, you’ll find that each new morning brings an entire day’s worth of it.