If I Could Save Time in a Bottle . . .

Last week we explored where to find ideas to jump-start your writing, now we need to find the time to write. Time is limited, and for most people, the demands on their time are unlimited. Even when there’s not a day job, there’s still friends and family and numerous other obligations vying for your attention.

If you have a lot of demands on your time, it’s actually helpful to establish a regular time each day to write. Get up early and write before anyone else is up, take a notepad with you to lunch, or stop off at a coffee shop on your way home from work. Students often have time on their hands between classes. Stay-at-home parents can write during nap time. Your schedule may evolve as your life changes, but most people get more done if they have a regular writing time.

Find the best time of day for you to write. It’s a combination of when you are most alert and when you have free time. Pick that time and write. Shut off distractions. Don’t answer the phone, don’t come to the door. For as little or as much time as you are writing, do only that.

Take a look at your life and see where all your time is going. Cut back on some of the less important tasks or, if you have a family, start delegating. Watch two hours of TV instead of four. Go out twice a week instead of every night. Decide that you aren’t going to bring your work home. Make some sacrifices. Decide that your writing is worth it.

Most people don’t make writing a high enough priority. They intend to write, but end up running errands or whatever. These activities are nothing more than excuses not to write. Turn that around. Make writing an excuse not to do other things.

While it’s important to write every day, don't let yourself become obsessed in the beginning, especially if you’re the kind of person who tends to throw themselves into new projects only have their interest wane after a few weeks. Write for your hour or two and then continue with your daily routine. Remember that you're in it for the long haul. Your mind needs time to replenish itself so don’t be afraid to take the occasional break .

Support yourself in as many ways as possible. Writing isn’t easy. Books on writing can help, as does having a specific place to write. Join a writer’s group or on-line writer’s community. Associating with a few people who share your interests and struggles helps motivate and sustain you.

Writing is not for everyone. You may want to write, but maybe the desire isn’t enough to keep you from doing more entertaining or pressing activities. If you keep trying, and failing, to make the time to write, then maybe writing’s not for you. Don’t feel guilty about letting it go, perhaps it will become more meaningful to you at another point in your life. When it is important enough to you to make some sacrifices, you’ll be able to make them. Until then, adjust to the fact that writing is something you like, but not necessarily enough to be a writer.

Finding Time to Write, by Moira Allen
Finding Time to Write, by Martha Retallick
Five Tips for Finding Writing Time, by Michael Stelzner
Finding the Time to Write, by Sahag Gureghian
Finding Time to Write


Jamie D. said...

Fabulous post, Carol...the "pep talk" we all need on occasion.

I do love my writing time - 10:30pm to midnight 5 nights a week. I fit in extra when I can, but that's my set time, and my brain goes to writing like clockwork. Very handy. :-)

C R Ward said...

I write in the evenings too, but that's only because life is forcing me to. :-)

My all-time favourite writing time was when I was able to stay up super late - my best writing was done after 1 a.m.

graceunderpressure said...

That is the best "pee or get off the pot" sermon I have ever heard! :D

C R Ward said...

LOL my mother used to say that all the time!