I had lunch with a fellow writer friend last week and he shared some of the challenges he was having finding time to write. He recently returned from long-term travel and, along with his partner, are trying to figure out where they are going to work and live. His life is a bit up in the air right now, so it isn’t really a surprise that his writing has fallen a little to the wayside.
His preferred way of writing is to go to the university library and spend the better part of the day writing, but with everything going on in his life right now he can’t always take that kind of time to write.
He recounted that on the morning before we met, he got so frustrated with not having written for a while, that he just sat down and wrote for several hours. He was thrilled that he’d managed to produce a nice chunk of writing.
There is a lesson in this for all of us.
We all have these fantasies associated with writing. My fantasy goes something like this. I wake up with the early morning light and make myself a lovely coffee before walking into my office. My desk is positioned in front of a window and get down to work, writing page after page with a fountain pen. The pages fill up as the day sails by.
In reality, I often wake up late or to an alarm clock. I make coffee and then get sucked into the vortex that is social media. Then I take care of some administrative stuff or work on a freelance project. Writing gets squeezed in around other things.
Reality rarely mirrors fantasy.
Life goes on for all of us as we try to make time to pursue our writing goals. So, how do we make time to write?
Here are a few techniques I’m currently using to ensure I continue pursuing my personal writing projects, in addition to my freelance communications work.
Write first thing in the morning
The best way to ensure you actually get something done is to do it first before you do anything else. Once the day gets going it is so easy to put it off until later and then suddenly the day is over and you didn’t get any writing done.
You might want to try getting up half an hour or hour earlier. The house is quieter and you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in even such a short amount of time.
Schedule writing time
If you really aren’t a morning person, try to schedule time to write in the same way you would schedule any other appointment or meeting. Block time off in your calendar and treat it as an appointment or sacred date with yourself.
Prioritize Your Writing
If you find it really hard to find time to write every day, you may need to take a hard look at how you spend your time each day. If writing really is so important to you, does it take a central place in your life? Or do other obligations take up your time? You might consider dropping some social events or volunteer obligations. You might be able to delegate some responsibilities to other family members, or even hiring some help. Investing in a house cleaner or virtual assistant could free up time to write.
Grab Scraps of Time to Write
Many of us have chunks of time each day or week when we are stuck waiting, such as taking public transit, or waiting for our kids at sports or classes. This is time were we could be writing. When I worked in an office, I often spend the nearly two hours a day on the subway reading or writing. Get in the habit of carrying a notebook or device on which you are happy to write. Personally, I like to carry a small notebook and a pen instead of laptop or tablet because I don’t have to worry about the batteries running down or getting distracted by WIFI.
Binge Writing Sessions
If you find it really hard to make time to write each day, you might try a binge writing session on the weekend or day off. This goes against the advice of writing each day, but this might work for you. The idea is to plan a block of time—say several hours—and spend that time writing. You might want to take off to a coffee shop or library to ensure your daily life doesn’t intrude into your writing time.
Let me know if you find these tips helpful, or share some of the techniques you use to make time to write.