Whoopee, It’s Time to Write!

A common lament I see among my fellow authors is “how do I find the time to write?TimeToWrite

I’ve asked that question myself, and I went in search of answers. It wasn’t difficult. I found no shortage of suggestions around the Internet. The problem is that the suggestions aren’t universal. What works for one person doesn’t work for another.

The good news is that I have found time to write, and it’s wonderful! I’m hoping that I can help you do the same, using my own experience as a case study. Granted, what worked for me won’t necessarily work for you, but if I can help even one other person get going on his or her writing, well then, my job is done here.

First, I want to mention some of the things that don’t work for me, and why they don’t work.

  • Attend a writing retreat: Sorry, I don’t have the money or a large block of time to dedicate to something like a retreat. I do like the idea. Having instant feedback on your work and trading support with fellow authors would be interesting and fun. It’s just not in my budget.
  • Get away to an off-site location: I could see how this suggestion would be beneficial if you have a serious problem with interruptions at home. But for me, going off-site is an unnecessary inconvenience. I can do things at home to minimize interruptions, and depending upon the location, going off-site may introduce it’s own distractions.
  • Free writing: This is where you basically set a timer and force yourself to write anything just to get the juices flowing. This is a good suggestion if you are suffering from writer’s block, and finding time to write is just one of your excuses. I haven’t run into that problem yet. When I sit down to write, I have no problem coming up with something to write about.

What did work for me was a combination of the following suggestions.

  • Pick the right time of day: I’m one of those insufferable morning people. My brain is at it’s peak in the morning, and slowly fades to black in the afternoon. After about 4:00 PM, I’m generally useless for anything terribly creative. For me, writing time has to be in the morning.
  • Minimize interruptions: This suggestion includes the usual admonishments to turn off your cell phone, close a door, close your email program, and just generally isolate yourself somehow for a period of concentration. I approached this issue by considering which times a day I usually experience the fewest interruptions to begin with. The answer was first thing in the morning. I’m an early riser: usually between 4:00 and 5:30 AM.  From the time I get up to about 6:30 or 7:00 AM, my time is mostly mine to do with as I please.
  • Prioritize: Once you more or less have a time slot you want to target for writing, you need to push aside whatever things are currently taking up that time slot. Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” I’m betting your favorite writing slot is currently being taken up with work that could be completed in less time, done at another time,  or eliminated altogether. Just look at everything that is in the way and ask yourself this question: “Is this activity more important than writing my book?”
  • Be consistent: Now we turn to Newton’s third law of motion (inertia), which is often paraphrased as: “A body at rest tends to stay at rest. A body in motion tends to stay in motion.” The same thing goes for your writing. It’s more difficult to get back into your writing if you stop doing it for a few days. It’s better to jealously guard your writing time and fend off any influences that tempt you to relinquish it. I find that being consistent keeps me thinking about my book in the “off time,” so I’m that much more productive the next time I sit down to write.

So, that’s what works for me. I get up early, start writing, and feel great for the rest of the day knowing I made progress.

One last though about priority. If you really want to write, you will make it happen. Yes, you may have to make sacrifices. If you decide your writing time is not worth making sacrifices for, then that’s good to know too. You can skip merrily back to your regular schedule (tra-la-la) and forget about that stupid writing thing.


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