Finding time for writing

I once saw a well-known author (who I won’t name) on a panel with other authors, and he asked how someone with a very busy life is to find the time to write. To this, he said, a bemused smirk on his face, “You just write.”

The audience obliged his response with a chuckle. But for those of us who are not among the lucky few who make a solid living from our writing, nor retired, unemployed, or a stay-at-home spouse and/or parent, carving out time to be a writer can be difficult. And, worse, when you actually find time to write, you may not feel like writing.

So, where do you find this elusive time to “just write”?

Well, I think the first step for you is to identify when it is in the day that you write at your best. Is it first thing in the morning? After lunch? In the dead of night? Or, does it not matter to you at all, as long as you have your trusty writing implement of choice? 

Once you decide that, you can start to figure out where to squeeze your writing time - at least an hour.

I say an hour, because anything less just isn’t realistic. You’ll spend some of those minutes getting comfortable and then finding the file or notebook page you need, so out of an hour, figure on 15 minutes for the pregame warm-up.

So, if the time to write for you is first thing in the morning, maybe try getting up an hour earlier. I know this is easier said than done for most of us, myself included, but think about not as getting up earlier. Think of it as starting your day writing. How great would that be? You may find that makes it a little easier to roll out of bed earlier.

Or, if the dead of night works better for, as it often does for me, skip your before-bed hour of TV (you know you do it) and go write. Yes, you will have to give up some of your precious TV time, but the last thing you will have done before you went to bed is write. Again, how great would that be?

Now, to deal with the issue of not being in the mood to write, once you’ve carved out that hour in which you will write daily/nightly, schedule permitting. If there is something particular that triggers your urge to write - whether that is a song (often my biggest trigger), or some picture you saw in a magazine - remember what that is, and before you start to write, play that song or look up that picture. This won’t work each and every time, but I find that it works at least 9 times out of 10 for me.

So, you have your three-step program to help you find time to write and actually be able to write once you have the time:

  1. Determine what time of day is when you write best.
  2. Decide how to squeeze in at least an hour within that time of day.
  3. Find your writing trigger.

If you’re having trouble finding your time to be a writer, give these steps a try. Let me know how it goes for you.