I have a young friend who at 16 has written two novels. Amazing.
She’s worked hard on them, writing non-stop.
Some days, I envied her because (well everyone envies a 16-year-olds’ health!) her life isn’t cluttered up with things. She could choose to write because there were few demands on her time.
Recently, though, she started a part-time job at a burger joint.
It’s her junior years, so school is getting busier and busier.
She asked me how I find time to write.
Finding Time to Write – Hitting a Moving Target
This is a question whose answer changes constantly. It think that’s important to remember, that as your life changes, you must find a new answer to this question.
When I first started writing, I had four children underfoot. To remind myself to write every day, I carried an ink pen in my jeans pocket. One day, that ink pen leaked and permanently stained the jeans. It’s a stain that reminded me on other days to write.
Now, my life is full of other problems. As a publishing company, there’s advertising, accounting, new book covers, and so many other tasks that consume my day. And in the midst of it, I need to find time to write.
Right now, it works better to schedule a block of days for projects. January/February were taken up by creating a video course about writing picture books (More about that in a future post). But March will be revising a fantasy novel. In the midst of everything else–because all the publishing tasks never stop–I work steadily on the project-of-the-month.
Someone once said: In the short run, I get less done than I expect; but in the long run, I get more done.
That’s my motto these days. Interruptions take me away from the writing. But by consistently coming back to it, I get lots done. Some friends say that I’m very prolific. I don’t think so. I just think that I’m consistent in reaching toward a goal.
OK. I’ll do accounting. But then, I’ll write for 30 minutes.
OK. I’ll proof that cover. But then, I’ll edit what I wrote for 10 minutes.
OK. I’ll create a couple ads. But then, I’ll brainstorm the next chapter for 15 minutes.
Those kids trained me to chunk a task into small sections and to concentrate on just that one segment next. When that’s done, the next segment is naturally apparent and I plan when I can do that one.
In the short run, it looks like I’m going nowhere fast.
In the long run, my writing gets done.
And so can yours.
4 responses to “Finding Time to Write”
This really resonated with me, Darcy. I’m constantly adjusting my schedule to fit my writing in whenever I can. I’d love to be able to stick to a set schedule, but that’s not realistic right now. And that’s ok. It doesn’t matter when I do it, only that it gets done.
Thanks for this post. I tend to get distracted by life and then my writing or editing doesn’t get done because there’s always tomorrow. But then, many tomorrows pass and I still don’t have a project finished.
I think this is one of the most important questions writers need to ask and answer for themselves, beyond where to get ideas.
I don’t have a solid answer, but I have read a lot of good ideas over the years. Some are specifically for writers, but others are simple time management tools.
The latest idea I heard was that often, we do have time to do what we want, even if we’re working 60 hours a week and with kids. Case in point, a woman with a full time job and kids who would have said she was very busy found seven hours to deal with a water heating breakdown. Why? Because she had to. But that meant she had seven hours that week to do that that wasn’t on her schedule.
Long story short, we give time where we have our priorities. Everyone can find a few spare hours a week, we just don’t choose to. I know I do this all the time. I have plenty of free time but between relaxing and gearing up for writing and doing all the other non-writing writing bits of writing (that makes sense, right?), I don’t get much writing done.
Another great tip I heard was for people who are in seasons of business. For instance, new parents might not be able to work on their novel. Their lives are so hectic and everything is so important that their ultimate priority must be their kid. Or someone who just found out they have cancer might not have time to write as they lean into a season of healing. Life has seasons, and some might be good to write in and some might not. That was really helpful for me to hear when I was in an extremely stressful season and didn’t feel like I was doing enough writing. I just couldn’t, and that was okay.
Anyway, great post! Thanks for sharing!
I’m a big fan of carving out a certain amount of time every day, at the same time of day and making that the most important activity of the day. You do your two to four hours every day no matter what!