One of the hardest things about being an author is finding time to write. This is especially hard if you aren’t published yet, and are just hoping your writing will actually pan out. I often feel guilty for needing to prioritize my writing when there are so many other things to do. Here are a few tips that have helped me this year.
1. Schedule writing. Two summers ago, I was so excited for everyone to be off school. I had visions of writing all the time, and having my book mostly finished by the end of summer. Much to my dismay, fall rolled around and I realized I had only sat down to write three days the entire summer. Now, I put writing time on my calendar, just like any other appointment, and I write for three hours twice a week.
J.K. Rowling's words provided encouragement for me:
“Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have “essential” and “long overdue” meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance.”
2. Minimize environmental distractions. Since I am Type A and slightly OCD, I don’t write effectively when there are messes in my line of sight. Writing time happens even if there are dirty dishes in the sink and piles of laundry to fold, but it helps if I can’t see them. This means I write at the tiny desk in the tiny office, where I can’t see the rest of the house, but am warm, cozy and can look out the window.
3. Minimize electronic distractions. Check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. . . before writing time starts, and after it ends. Don’t allow yourself to flip between screens. (This is easier said than done!)
4. Be observant. Realize a lot of writing happens when we are out and about and paying attention to life. One day, on the way home from taking kiddos to school, I noticed the beautiful sparkles on the lake. I spent the rest of my drive working out adjective phrases to describe the blue and the sparkles. When I got home, I jotted down my ideas in my writing notebook, to save for later.
5. Multi-task. Often, just before I hop in the shower, I look up what I am writing about next on our blog, or I reread the last page of my manuscript. I spend my shower time thinking about what happens next or planning a post. Multi-tasking works well for a lot of mindless tasks, like folding laundry, waiting at appointments, sitting in carpool lanes, jogging, etc. . ..
6. Think outside the box. For me, having a word count goal for writing time is stressful and sometimes counter-productive. I am thrilled if I get two great chapters written, but I am just as pleased if I write one scene, then realize I need to research something before moving on. For me, having an hourly goal works better than a word count goal.
7. Have an Accountability Partner. Reporting your progress to a real person weekly is a powerful motivator. You can meet for coffee, or do phone or email check-ins. Accountability partners don’t necessarily have to be fellow fiction writers. Monica is working on a business curriculum and art blog, but she still keeps me accountable to get tasks done and encourages me when I feel stuck.
8. Reschedule. If something comes up during your writing time, (like your best friend is in town and wants to have breakfast), by all means, go do it. Just don’t forget to find an alternate writing time during the week.
How do you make time for writing? What is your biggest barrier to having time to write?
Leave a comment and let us know! Thanks!