Finding Time to Write
Most people who say they want to write don’t make writing a high enough priority. They intend to write, but end up running errands or doing a thousand other things. People use these activities as excuses not to write. Turn that around. Make writing an excuse not to do other things. Finding time to write means making writing a priority. This is easier said than done.
Change the Kind of Writing You Do
Finding time to write is sometimes a matter of choosing the right thing to write. You may only have a half hour a day to devote to writing. That is still a significant amount of time if you do it every day. Unfortunately, writing the Great American Novel may become a depressing task if you have limited time. Try writing personal essays, or poetry, or short stories. Pick projects you can complete. Build up your chops before setting out on a project that may take years. If you do have a long project, don’t let lack of progress depress you. Write something else for a while then come back to it. The key is to keep writing something. Finding time to write a poem or an essay is easier than finding time to write a novel.
Train Yourself to Write Fast
Remember in high school and college when your evil instructors made you write timed essays? Make yourself do the same thing. Give yourself 45 minutes to write a coherent article or short-short story. You may not be successful every time, but that is why you keep working at it. It’s a skill you learn to develop. Finding time to write is easier when you write quickly.
Simplify Your Life
Take a look at all the projects you are currently working on. This means more than writing projects. Look at your whole life. Try to eliminate a few things. Analyze your days and figure out exactly where the time is going. Cut back on some of the less important tasks. Watch two hours of TV instead of four. Give up on that afghan you’ve been knitting. Go out twice a week instead of every night. Decide that you aren’t going to bring home your work. Make some sacrifices. Decide that your writing is worth it. Finding time to write means figuring out what you don’t want to be doing instead of writing.
Figure Out the Best Times of the Day for You to Write
The best time to work is a combination of when you are most alert and when you have free time. Pick that time and write. It may be the middle of the night or the middle of the day, but having a regular time when you write makes it easier to keep writing.
Don’t Answer The Phone
Don’t come to the door. Don’t Tweet. Don’t update your Facebook status. For as little or as much time as you are writing, do only that. Finding time to write means making the most of the time you spend writing.
Decide Whether Or Not Writing Is A Priority
Writing is not for everyone. If you keep trying and failing to make the time to write, then writing may not be for you. You may want to write, but if the desire is not enough to keep you from doing more entertaining or pressing activities, then perhaps writing isn’t for you.
Writing may become more meaningful to you at another point in your life, but don’t feel guilty about letting it go. When it is important enough to you to make some sacrifices, you’ll be able to make them. Adjust to the fact that writing is something you like, but not necessarily enough to be a writer. I would love to take up painting. It looks like a wonderful hobby. I realize though that I just don’t have the time to devote to it now. At a later stage in my life, who knows? But I guarantee I don’t feel guilty about not doing it now. Finding time to write is great, if it is really what you want to do.
- A Basic Guide to Time and Task Management
- Writing Productivity: Using an Idea Log
- Finding Time for More Writing
- Finding Time for Research
- Managing Time
Finding Time to Write was originally published in September, 1999. Finding Time to Write was revised on December 19, 2013.