We all know the struggle of living a fast-paced life. From the moment we get up to the moment our heads hit the pillow at night, we’re constantly moving. At least that’s the way it feels to me. For writers, this stress can be amplified. It’s not enough for us to just meet the agenda of daily life. We also have to be able to wave a magic wand and create writing time out of thin air.
Today, I’m going to show you that you don’t need a magic wand. You just need a few good strategies for knowing what to do—and what to avoid—when it comes to creating time to write.
The Dos of Creating Time to Write
1. Do Build It Into Your Day: I know, I know. I can already hear some of you saying, “That’s not possible for me.” Oh, really? I would seriously beg to differ. Unless you are working 60 hours a week and have kids, I don’t want to hear your excuses. Even those in the aforementioned category have managed to squeeze in a 15-30 minute writing block, either just before bed, or by waking up earlier in the morning. The key thing to remember is that if you love it, you’ll make time for it. If you’re skipping your daily 500 words to watch re-runs of Law and Order, I think it’s a safe bet to say that you should probably re-evaluate your proclaimed love of writing (and/or give writer’s block the bust).
2. Do Delete Extraneous Time-Wasters: This should be a given, though I know it’s a big struggle for many (*slowly raises own hand*). There are ways to get in your daily social media fix and attend to your promotional business WITHOUT interfering with your precious writing time. Set aside a special time each day to respond to all those comments on Facebook and your blog and all those mentions on Twitter. Block the websites that distract you most during the hours that you write with browser extensions like StayFocusd or Chrome Nanny. Or, if you have literally no need whatsoever for your wireless, TURN IT OFF while you write.
Also, turn your phone on silent or put it somewhere where it’s hard for you to reach if you need to leave it on. Shut and lock your door during your alloted writing time. These steps are all very simple and require just a little bit of willpower and proactive planning to complete, but they will pay you back wonderfully when it comes to gaining a few more minutes (or even a half hour to an hour) of time to write.
3. Do Steal Snippets of Time During Lulls in Everyday Activities: This one is a bit more challenging, but only until your memory starts to kick in and recognize those windows of opportunity. A few minutes here before the kids get off the bus, ten minutes there while the eggs are boiling on the stove, five minutes in the car waiting for your order at a busy drive-thru…the list goes on and on. It may take some getting used to, but this strategy can work wonders, especially if your mind is buzzing with ideas throughout the day that you wish you could write down. Look for those little opportunities and snatch them up when you happen across them. If this happens even twice a day, that’s an extra ten or even twenty minutes of writing you’ve squeezed out of your day.
When I was having to make weekly trips out of town, I’d edit in my car while waiting for my partner to show up. I’d also grab a few minutes here or there at my day job when the children were down for naps or were behaving nicely. Twenty minutes before going to bed? I’d grab my laptop or my notebook and pen and flop down in bed to settle down and write a few more paragraphs or sentences before hitting the hay. I wrote a novel that way, in snippets of time, and you can, too, with a little willpower and planning.
Don’ts of Creating Time to Write
1. Don’t be greedy with your time. While it’s important to make time for writing, don’t steal from things that are essential to your life. It’s perfectly reasonable to write for a few minutes before bed, but don’t set your writing time for 7PM if you know that that’s when your kids or your spouse would most like to spend time with you. There’s a balance to be had, and it may take a bit of practice to get it just right. But in the end, it’s worth it to make the extra effort.
2. Don’t become a lazy bum. This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you know you have a house to clean or two weeks’ worth of laundry to get through, it doesn’t make sense to ignore those things and write for hours on end (as much as we might like to). I’ve heard from some bloggers and authors that their best writing takes place when they’re supposed to be doing something else. As true as that may be, there’s a way to go about using our daily tasks to further our writing WITHOUT neglecting essential chores and daily duties.
If you’re folding the laundry, imagine your characters folding the laundry with you. If you’re in the backyard raking leaves, imagine what your story world’s setting might look like in the autumn. In this way, you’re still being creative and keeping those juices flowing while your hands are occupied with other necessary things. And when you come back to your writing, you’ll be able to feed off of that energy you’ve built up throughout the day.
3. Don’t forget to pray. I know some of you may not be spiritually inclined, and that’s okay. But this one is a biggie for me and for many. When I was running short on time to write, my first temptation was to shorten my prayer time or to delete some of it entirely. This is NOT the way to go, especially when writing spiritual fiction. My daily devotions are the bread and water of my soul, and without them I quickly run dry, not only spiritually but mentally and emotionally as well. And a dry well means no inspiration. Prayer is the key to staying connected to the Muse of all Muses, and to the guidance you need to lead your book in the right direction. Without prayer, my writing is nothing, and I’d wager a bet that that holds true for all of us.
We’ve seen what it takes to make time to write, and what we should avoid doing when it comes to moving around our schedules to fit it in. I hope these tips will help you make more time and take control of your writing life. We are the masters of our own time, and what we love will inevitably work itself into our daily lives; it’s just up to us to optimize that time as much as we can .
Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you on the next ship in!
Tell me your opinion: How have you found ways to work writing into your schedule without disrupting your other important daily priorities? Share in the comments below; I’d love to chat!