Saturday, March 26, 2011

How to Find the Time to Write

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I'm sure if you are like me there always seems to be something from the real world that seems to want to get in the way of and distract you from writing.

Life happens. The phone will ring, you have emails that you want to respond to, you really need to check your Facebook page or your Twitter account, you need to finish researching that one topic that is going to tie your plot together, your family and friends want you to hang out with them, your house needs cleaning, your favorite television show is featuring your favorite actor/actress as a guest star and you don't want to miss it...any of these sound familiar?

It is especially difficult to find the time to write in the beginning stages when maybe you also have a real world J-O-B that requires so much of your time and drains you of your energy. So where do you find the time to write? Well, you simply have to have to make time for yourself and your goals and make your writing a priority.

I know, easier said than done, right? Listed below are a few things that I found really helped me and inspired me to find the time to write:

1. Create an inspiring writing space: 

  • Find a space and dedicate it to your writing. It can be a corner or an entire room, but you want to try to limit its use to writing and idea generation only. When you are in this space, you will know that you are there to write! 
2. Fill your writing space with things that inspire you:
  • Photographs of scenery (like that castle in Scotland that you are using as the setting for your novel).
  • Photographs of your intended protagonists, and maybe even your antagonists. Nothing inspires me more that looking up at a handsome hero or intriguingly evil bad guy.
  • Photographs of your favorite authors and others who inspire you.
  • Idea journals. These are those little notebooks that you carry around with you so you can jot down story ideas wherever you may be. (Don't have an idea journal? Get one! These are great for recording fleeting ideas that pop into your head between your scheduled writing times that you want to incorporate into your story, but may forget if not recorded when they occur.) 
  • Inspirational quotes.  
3. Set your priorities and stop giving time to unproductive activities:
  • Have you ever heard yourself say that I don't have time to write? Look at how you actually spend your time each day. Are these activities really benefiting you and helping you to achieve your personal goals? 
  • Try keeping a daily activity log for a week where you record how much time you spend doing various activities, then figure out where you can whittle out some time for yourself and your writing. Do you really need to watch three hours of television every evening? Could you get up thirty minutes to an hour earlier on specified mornings? Do you really need to Tweet or check Facebook four times a day? If the answer is no, then give these activities the ax and replace them with more productive and imaginative ones, like writing.
4. Set daily writing goals:
  • Commit yourself to writing on certain days of the week (remember we all need days off and some down time to rejuvenate). You may only have the weekends or other days off from your current job available to write, or you may have to work in your writing schedule around other commitments. That is OK! Figure out what works and is reasonable for you and commit to that
  • On whichever days you commit to, decide on a certain number of words, paragraphs or pages that you can reasonably complete, or commit to writing for a certain amount of time on those days. Stay in your writing space until you have reached your set number of words, paragraphs or pages, or until your allotted time is up.
  • Use this allotted time ONLY for writing! If you need to do research or want to network, set additional time for that.
5. Make an appointment with yourself for yourself and keep it:
  • Once you have decided which days and times you are going to commit to writing, schedule it in your appointment book just like you would any other appointment, and keep it!
  • Let others know that you will be unavailable during that time period. Don't be afraid to say, "I'm sorry but I have an appointment." Honor your commitment to yourself. You deserve this time.
  • Look at this appointment as a job interview. Be on time, be prepared, and don't reschedule.  
6. Stop distractions before you get started:
  • Turn off the television, radio, and especially the telephone before you sit down to write. 
  • If other people are in the house with you, make sure that they know that this is your writing time and that you are not to be disturbed during the time limit that you have set for yourself.
  • Prepare your coffee, soda, snacks, ahead of time. Bring them to your desk with you before you begin writing. 
  • Although most of us write on our computers, if you write long-hand, then sharpen your pencils and have extra pens available. 
  • Anticipate any needs that you may have during your allotted writing time, and be prepared for them, so you do not stop writing once you begin.
7. Write freely:
  • During our carved out writing time, just write. Let the words freely flow from you. Don't worry about spelling or punctuation errors, don't even worry about sequence at this point; just get your words and ideas onto paper (or screen). 
  • Don't stop to edit while you are writing. There will plenty of time for editing after your rough draft is complete. 
  • If you decide that you want or need to to change something in your story that you have written in an earlier chapter, place a note into your manuscript where you are writing at that moment and go back during the editing phase and add or correct whatever issue you noted. 
As you can see, it is possible to find the time to write, but it requires making a commitment to yourself and allowing yourself to keep it. Using the above tips can help you do just that, they certainly help me.


  1. These are all great suggestions! I'm going to focus on re-inspiring my writing space, so that I don't get as easily distracted by the non-productive activities (yes, Twitter, I'm talking about you!) Thanks for sharing these.

  2. @ Donna - I'm so glad that you found these tips helpful. Since I established my writing space and use it only for writing and writing related activities, I find that I am much more inspired to write whenever I sit down.