Skip to main content


July 10, 2019

“Not Enough Time” is a Myth


USA Today and #1 Denver Post bestselling author Carter Wilson has written five critically acclaimed, stand-alone psychological thrillers. His sixth and latest novel, THE DEAD GIRL IN 2A, is intensely creepy and full of his signature whom-can-you-trust paranoia. In this very uplifting and inspiring piece, Carter draws on personal experience as he encourages us to define our lives, not through time, but through the things that make us happy rather than the things that we feel like we have to do. He has a simple formula for this: PASSION + COMMITMENT = HAPPINESS.


As a bestselling author of six psychological suspense novels who also has a full-time job and family, I'm frequently asked, "How to you find the time to write?" I used to answer this vaguely, like I was some kind of superhuman who didn't know how to explain their innate powers. But it didn't take long to realize I wasn't special. I wasn't doing anything that anyone else isn't capable of. I was merely making choices that allowed me to do the things that made me happiest.

True, there are only 24 hours in a day. But that only matters if you choose to define your life as a series of days. But what if, rather than defining your life through time, you defined it though passion? Through the things that made you happy rather than the things you felt you had to do? What would that look like?

I have a formula for all of this, and it doesn't factor in time as a variable at all. It's this:


I didn't start writing until I was 33 and, having no formal education in the field, had no idea what I was doing. My writing career began on a single day when, in order to stave off boredom at a continuing-education class, I began writing a story. I wrote that story for two hours in the class, went home, then decided I had more to say. Three months later, I had a 400-page manuscript. I remember writing that last line, sitting back and thinking, What just happened? Is this what I'm supposed to be doing with my life? And the biggest question of them all: Now what?

I proceeded to learn the publishing industry, mostly through Google. What do I do with a completed novel? Find an agent. How do I do that? Write query letters. And so on. After 70 or so rejections, I landed that agent. She shipped my book around to all the publishing houses, where it took about a year to be soundly rejected.

That last rejection represented an inflection point in my life. Two years earlier, I never would have conceived that I'd soon be writing a novel, landing an agent, and having my book rejected by all the publishing houses. With that final rejection, it was time to define exactly what this life path was. Give it a name. Was this a whim, or was this a passion? Did writing make me happy?

Yes, I decided. It did.

So I found the time around my already busy life to write a second novel, which took a year to finish and another year to be rejected. As did books three and four. Finally, roughly eight years after that day in the classroom where I began my first story, I landed my first publishing deal with that fifth book. Since then, I've had four other novels published, a sixth that just released, have won numerous awards and have even hit the USA Today bestseller list. And yet, I still have that full-time job. I've still managed to raise two wonderful, if-slightly-deranged, kids. I still spend cherished quality time with Jessica, my partner. I still manage to log 250 workouts a year.

It's not a miracle. It's not some secret time-management technique. I do all of those things because I have a passion for them all. I love writing, my job, my kids, Jessica and exercise. Make the things you are passionate about your priority, and the rest will slip away. And there's this added benefit: focusing on things that make you happy will naturally result in spending less time on things that don't. For me, those things include obsessing over the news, wasting hours on social media, and reading books or watching shows with which I'm not fully engaged.

When people say, "I don't have the time," it's usually just an excuse. What they really mean is that they don't want to prioritize something into their life because it's less important to them than other things. Sure, sometimes there's literally not enough time to do something even if you love it (like writing a book in a week), but if you really wanted to do something, like master the guitar, you could do it. It could take years, but that doesn't matter. Define your life through passion, not time.

Yes, my days are full. I get up at 5am, work out, write, get the kids to school, go to work, come home, write some more, spend quality time with my family, and then I'm in bed around 10pm. I can't write a novel in three months anymore; it takes a year.

Which leads me to the second part of the equation. Commitment. You can be passionate all you want about something, but if you don't throw yourself fully into something, the happiness you seek around that thing will never be fully realized. Many instances when I sit down to write, there is no muse guiding me. No sense of losing time as my fingers take control of my brain and the story magically unfolds. Lots of times writing sucks, feeling more like a low-level data-entry job than crafting a piece of creative fiction. But I have to sit in that chair every day, seven days a week, because for all the times it's not fun, I know I'm an overall happier person for it.

Next time you actually use the phrase, "I don't have the time," catch yourself and think about what it is you really mean. Do you not have the time, or do you not have the passion? Asking yourself that simple question might reshape how you view what it means to be happy.

Passion plus commitment equals happiness. It can be that easy.