Even seasoned writers sometimes struggle with making time to write, whether it’s time with the page or spending too much time staring at a blank page. Our lives and world are a busy place.
The trick, I feel, is to make lifestyle changes that support our creativity. Whether you are a weekend binge writer or write small amounts every day, time management boosts productivity.
But it’s more than just producing words. It’s about using our writing time to full advantage and feeling good about it.
Over the next few weeks, I want to take a look at steps we can take (small and large) to give ourselves the gift of time. Whether you are very new to writing or been at it a while, hopefully you’ll find something in this series that you can use in your writing habit.
I have a “no excuses” policy on the argument of time. If you find you are making excuses instead of writing, you might be struggling with motivation or fear, not time management. You don’t need an hour of solitude every day to put words on the page. You just need to write in the spaces available to you. If that’s 500 words a few times a week, that’s fine. If that’s writing all day on Saturday, that’s fine. Whatever time you carve out is sufficient as long as you use it.
One fallacy I’d like to deal with immediately is the idea that you can’t get anywhere on fifteen minutes a day. In order to demonstrate the error of this thought, I have taken it upon myself to do math for you (the Muses are snickering in the corner–they know how I feel about math). If you type 40 words a minute and you write 10 minutes a day, that’s 400 words a day, 2400 words a week (six days), 9600 words a month, and 115200 words a year. Depending on your genre, that’s one to three novels.
Regular writing has a wonderful cumulative effect, you see. All those words add up. It is doable. And the added benefit is this: the more you write consistently, the easier it becomes to stay consistent.
I was a single parent with full-time jobs, including jobs that had me on my feet 12-14 hours a day. I totally get it. I’ve been through it. Some of what we’ll cover will be from my own struggles to find time. The Muses all lead busy lives with varying amounts of sleep. We understand. And we’re here to help.
We’ve talked about time wasters several times here at The Sarcastic Muse, so I’ll try not to cover old ground. Next week, we’ll look at the not-so-obvious time sponges that may contribute to the feeling we have no time to write.
Where do you struggle with making time to write?
Excellent points, all. Thanks for the kick in the ass, which I have been needing for a few weeks now. I look forward to further applications of boot leather to my posterior (but I don’t mean in a “Fifty Shades” way…You know what? Forget that I said that last bit).
I often think I write these posts for myself as well, M.A. 🙂
My problem has been pretty simple. I had a month or two of producing 500 words a day just about every day. In fact, it was going so well, that I upped my target to 1,000 words daily, and I was doing well with that too for about a month or so. Then family illness and other life stuff jumped up (I’m a stay-at-home dad with a 6-year-old and a toddler), and I got off track. But rather than cutting back on my target, I felt even more pressure to produce to make up for the writing I’d missed. And when I couldn’t do that, I got discouraged and negative and let other obligations (or time-wasting) eat up my writing time. So I’m going back to the beginning, to 500 words which I know I can do, even when other things pop up. I had started to convince myself that 500 words wasn’t enough, but, as you rightly point out, it all adds up, and anything is better than nothing. So thanks again, and I look forward to further installments on this subject.
I had a “plot twist” in my life at the end of November and bad family news in December, and I’m still struggle with getting back on track.All my goals for 2015 are up in the air and I feel both desperate and frustrated. I think the pressure I put on myself is making everything worse, though it’s not easy to step back and let go. At some point, I’ll return to “normal.” Until then, I’m poking along and reminding myself the books will still get written, just not today.
Take heart and don’t let the idea of discipline rob you of your motivation.
Here are my two most difficult obstacles in making time to write. First, I tend to need a space where it is quiet, relatively speaking. I’m not talking about complete silence, but rather a steady hum of noise instead of abrupt changes in activity level around me. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to find the time in that space. I guess I need to practice more 😉
Second, I sometimes feel guilty about carving out time to write. It’s not paying the bills and there are so many other things that need to be done – laundry, grocery shopping, yard work, and – oh yeah – the paying job that provides me a paycheck every two weeks 🙂
Again, I need to practice on both of these. I do find time to write, but it isn’t always the quality time that I hope it to be. But, something is definitely better than nothing. And it certainly becomes easier to get into the groove when you begin to write consistently.
Thanks for sharing Robyn, I am already looking forward to the next article in this series 🙂
Both the need for quiet and guilt sound very familiar to me (as in, your words could have come from my head). I like your use of the word “practice” for dealing with these, the need to just keep working in a small, steady way–not just the writing itself but also my attitude about the writing and what it takes.
I have a sound thingie that plays a thunderstorm in my headset. After a week or two I found I could write just about anywhere I can take that sound. Not sure if that will help your situation, Dave, but might be worth a shot.
Guilt…yeah. That’s a tough one. You just have to know that feeding your soul and writing is taking care of YOU so you are better able to take care of others.
Actually, I have been toying with your first idea Robyn. I just purchased a distraction free writing tool called ZenWriter. I really like it, and it has various background tracks that are non-obtrusive and that certainly seems to be helping.
And your reply to the whole guilt thing is spot on – I know that is the case, but it’s still tough at times. Sometimes, I think it takes us much practice in these areas of writing as the actual writing process 😉 Thanks for your thoughtful response, I always appreciate your insights!
Oh boy – I am going to enjoy this series.
My problem is this: I love writing in the night. As a bona fide night owl with a demanding pup 😉 , I find it easier to sit down for long hours after the sun sets and my husband gets to bed. HOWEVER, I hate waking up late. I have written until 2-3 am, but then find it hard to open those weary eyelids before 9:30 am, which kills my whole day (especially since my Eating Disorder prevents me from writing after lunch, from 2 pm to 5 pm!)
I have a feeling your series is going to help me tweak my attitude and solve this conundrum – thank you! #HUGS
Kitto, have you ever tried going to bed early and getting up a few hours before the sun comes up? I’m a bona fide night owl, but getting up early works for me, too. Just a thought.
I will try to hit the bed sooner – I have always had trouble sleeping, but a good book has been helpful in the past ❤ – LOVE ya
Oh, I TOTALLY understand the night owl who hates sleeping late conundrum. Basically, I’d just like to never sleep. My most productive time for writing is at night when everyone is asleep — when the world is quiet. I find too much goes on during the day. My brain is usually focused on other things. But, I hate feeling like I’ve wasted my day. =\
#HUGS Glad to know that someone else shares this conundrum!
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