Finding Time to Write

If you’re always putting other activities before your writing, try the tips in the list that follows.

1) Eliminate distractions and time wasters.

  • Get on “do-not-call” (www.donotcall.gov) and “do-not-mail” (www.directmail.com/directory/mail_preference) lists to stop telemarketers’ calls and junk mail.
  • Mute the TV and write during commercials.
  • Cancel subscriptions to magazines you don’t have to time to read anyway.
  • Limit (but don’t eliminate) socializing.
  • Leave the house or your office to write.
  • Tell others not to interrupt you during your writing time. (Put your mean face on or a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door, if necessary.)

2) Free up time to write.

  • Write while waiting in traffic.
  • Arrive at appointments early and write while you wait.
  • Set appointments with yourself to write.
  • Write while on vacation (See How to Find to Write While Traveling. Scroll down to find the article, if necessary.)
  • Write during your lunch hour and breaks.
  • Arrive at work early or stay late to write.
  • Write while the children nap.
  • Apply the two-minute rule. Write for two minutes. That’s it. Two minutes and you’re done for the day!

3) During your dedicated writing time, no matter how long or short it is, don’t get distracted by:

  • Reading email.
  • Responding to instant messaging.
  • Surfing the web.
  • Answering the phone.
  • Doing housework.
  • Exploring the contents of your refrigerator.

It’s all right to take a drive or a walk, so long as you let your imagination roam or gather impressions for your writing. It’s not all right to include errands on this drive or walk.

You’re making space in your mind for writing. You’re putting responsibilities and interactions on hold for a while so that you can think about your writing. After all, a huge part of writing is thinking. That’s why writers often seem preoccupied, the glazed look in their eyes signaling that they’re mentally removed from what’s going on around them. Our world is noisy and busy. Separate yourself so that you think – and write.

Here’s how some other writers found time to write.

How Other Authors Found Time to Write

Anthony Trollope, author of Barchester Towers and many other novels, got up at 5:00 a.m. every day, and wrote before he went to his job as a postal clerk. But even more encouraging to boomers and seniors out there: His mother began writing at the age of 53 and wrote 41 books before she died at the age of 84.

With a husband and four children, as well as surviving many bouts of her own and her husband’s surgeries, Margaret Walker accomplished decades of research and writing to complete her acclaimed historical novel, Jubilee. Sometimes Walker even left her busy home and stayed with relatives so she could write in quiet.

Above my desk, I have a quote by Linda M. Hasselstrom, author of Windbreaker: A Woman Rancher on the Northern Plains. She counsels women who want to write:

“Say NO. NO! NO! NO! . . .

I will NOT bring a hot dish to the Ladies’ Aid society meeting.

I will NOT pick up your child or your cleaning.

I will NOT serve on a committee, no matter how high-minded its purpose.”

Learn to say “no.”

If you find that you still can’t make yourself write, maybe you don’t really want to write. Talk it over with a writing coach.

Recommended Resources

What are You Willing to Sacrifice to Write?

Making Space for Change

How Does a Mother of 5 Find Time to Write? 

I’d love to know how you make time to write? Please leave a comment. And if you know of writers who are struggling to find time for their writing, please share this post with them.

For a steady stream of writing tips, follow me on Twitter @lynettebenton.

Having trouble staying inspired?

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14 thoughts on “Finding Time to Write

  1. I’m with Trollope – getting up at 5 a.m. to write, or at least that was my routine until my kids started high school. Now they get up at 6, sometimes earlier and my quiet time is gone!

  2. All excellent advice. For a compendium of ideas, I like Write is a Verb by Bill O’Hanlon (I think I may have mentioned this before. Step one, however, is to make the commitment to yourself. Once one has really become determined, then one can put these ideas into practice. A favorite quote (I use with my sons 🙂 is: “A man/woman who doesn’t want to do something finds an excuse. A man/woman who WANTS to do something finds a way.” I have to get to commitment again! The issue is commitment means sacrifice. Something has to go, whether it’s the dishes in the sink (can you stand it for days???) and sometimes more important stuff–like related to family. That’s the tough one. How do others balance good and enough family time with time to follow one’s writing dream? What can be put off (dishes) and what can’t (a sobbing child)?

  3. One thing I did was cut off my hair, just to free up more time to write. Sounds drastic (but I still think I look cute). Kids are a different matter, though. I don’t know how parents find time to write, but do read Cynthia Orsick on that topic. She had 5, I think, reared them alone, and still wrote a great deal.

  4. Lynette, you do look good with short hair, but I’d have never known you cut it off to write! Wow!

    I haven’t an actual WIP that I’m working currently, but there’s always somethiing waiting to be written. I like how you point out those little gaps we don’t think of using to do anything at all when we could be writing.

  5. Thanks, Shakirah. Whenever I learn about women with no money or help and 5 or more kids managing somehow to write books, I’m beyond inspired. And I quit complaining about not having time to write!

  6. Some great tips and advice there. I get really irritable and tired if I can’t write. I need to focus and exercise my mind.

  7. I have found that writing during my lunchtime or breaks will sometimes spur me on to do more writing when I get to my home destination.

    I cant write on the T.
    I can tune out the TV and go to my happy place to write.

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