I've noticed a phenomenon in my life: I get more done in the busiest, most stressful periods. When I have plenty of time to write — literally hours — I lag, I avoid, I procrastinate. As my free time increases, my productivity decreases.
All of this points to an inevitable truth I have to face: my biggest time thief is ME.
I can't blame television (which I often have on as background noise when I'm writing anyway). I can't even blame the lure of the internet. I can blame my puppy a little, but as he gets older he gets less needy and (marginally) better behaved. He's teething, so I give him a carrot and he shuts up for a while.
My time thieves aren't responsibilities and technologies, they're a little more tricky. They are my fears: of failure, of rejection, of disappointing and disappointment. They stop me from doing as much writing as I ought to do, from submitting the work I complete and from doing more to promote my writing. I spend more time thinking up excuses not to do writing tasks ('there is no point in entering competitions because I never win' and 'why bother writing a themed story for that journal when they will just reject me?') than I spend actually writing.
I can't kill my time thieves until I fight them.
Fears don't disappear until you face them — multiple times. I'm caught in a vicious circle: I'm too afraid to step up and put my work out there, yet I will never overcome this fear until I put my work out there. What choice do I have? I can remain stuck, or I can take action.
Because whatever your time thieves are, the only way to kill them is through sheer determination and perseverance.
Isn't that annoying? Nobody's going to lock you in a room without distractions. An app that blocks internet access may help, but it's no substitute for willpower. Family and work take up a lot of time, but not every single hour. Most people can reclaim time spent doing stuff that's less important than their major goals in life.
The bottom line is, if you want something badly enough you have to grit your teeth and do it. Stop making excuses and get on with chasing your dreams.