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Making Room for New Beginnings
Anne Janzer -- Membership Expert Anne Janzer -- Membership Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: San Luis Obispo, CA
Tuesday, December 12, 2023

typewriter with words typed .
Image: DepositPhoto

Have you ever cleaned out a closet — clearing away unwanted clutter, giving away old clothing, reorganizing — only to have it fill up again in six months?

If you want to live with a clean, organized closet, you have two options:

  1. Move to a home with a giant closet and hope it outlasts you
  2. Get disciplined about what you add and what you give away

It’s easy to add things to our closets, our calendars, our lives. Taking them away is harder.

Every day is a 24-hour closet. 

If you want to add a new project or role your life—writing a book, spending time with a grandchild, learning a language — you’ve got to clear space for it. That means letting something go, paring down somewhere. 

Opportunity costs

Everything you do has a cost and a benefit. The benefit, I trust, is clear. The cost is trickier to spot. It includes not only the time you spend on the activity, but also the other things you might have realistically done with that time. (Economists call this opportunity cost.)

Time spent on mundane work tasks without much value is time you’re not spending on more valuable or joyful activities. Like writing.

Making room for important work may require letting go of other, seemingly worthy activities. At least for a while.

For example, let’s say you want to write a book in the next year. And, you’re also working on building an Instagram following and writing guest posts for other blogs. On any given day, which of those activities is likely to get your attention and time? The one that offers a more immediate reward—posting on Instagram or someone’s blog. And the longer term project doesn’t progress. You may need to temporarily dial down the other goals.

Perhaps another, lingering project consumes much of your time. Can you bring it to a conclusion, or should you abandon it? Deciding when to quit is an important skill. The best time is usually earlier than you think, if it means that you start on a more important project sooner.

Don’t let the fact that you’ve put so much into it already keep you grinding away on something you wouldn’t choose to start again. That’s the sunk cost fallacy and it’s hard to shake.

What are you willing to part with—even temporarily—to make room for writing?

Letting go is hard

What if your life feels full already and there aren’t a lot of easy, obvious candidates for reclaiming time?

You may need to dispense activities you enjoy or projects you like. That can feel painful. (Like getting rid of that sweater you never wear but you loved when you bought.)

If you try to do everything, your life will feel like that overstuffed closet.

Pile of messy clothes in closet.
Image: Depositphoto – This is not my closet!

Find ways to dial back, gently, in service of your larger goals.

Start small. Even a big writing project can take shape with as little as 30 minutes a day. Don’t underestimate the magical power of a consistent writing practice.

Then, look for ways to preserve and protect that time. Here are a few options

  • Put guardrails on your social media time. (I’ve reclaimed the small amounts of time previously spent on Twitter/X.)
  • Unsubscribe from emails or options that don’t help in meaningful ways. (You can resubscribe later if you miss them.)
  • Block writing time on your calendar that cannot be filled with calls or meetings.

Embrace JOMO

Here’s a mindset switch that may help if you find it hard to miss out on social media or other things. Replace Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) with Joy of Missing Out (JOMO).

Every time you unsubscribe or say ‘no’ to something that would distract you from your goal, celebrate it. You’re really saying “Yes” to the important work.

A couple years ago, I started a “No” notebook and made a note of every time I said “no” to a request that wasn’t a good fit for my goals. (I need to restart that.) Reward yourself for the strength by tracking it.

It can feel tremendously freeing to let go of things you’re doing for the wrong reasons.

Finding a balance

As you reallocate time for your writing, protect the sources of your health and creativity. Don’t steal time from these:

  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Time with family/friends
  • Restorative activities: time in nature, reading, relaxing

If you’re not sure where you can find time to write, download this Time Audit sheet from The Writer’s Process Workbook. Look at how you’re spending your time now.

  • Does anything surprise you?
  • Does the way you spend your time align with your values?
  • Have your values shifted, without being reflected in your time?

If you do this work, you can probably carve out a bit of time for something that will give you joy.

Dive deeper (if you have the time)

Check out Annie Duke’s excellent book Quit on the power of quitting something at the right time.

Find more writing advice in The Writer’s Process Workbook.

Cuesta Park Consulting & Publishing publishes books and online courses for writers and marketing professionals. Books are available in print, ebook, and audiobook formats from a wide range of retailers. For more information, visit AnneJanzer.com.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Anne Janzer
Group: Cuesta Park Consulting
Dateline: San Luis Obispo, CA United States
Direct Phone: 4155176592
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