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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Dear Time-Strapped Writer

I got the idea for this post after a writer sent me an email asking for advice on a few different concerns and one of them was about finding the time to write. I know countless writers have the same problem, so this one is for you!

Dear Time-Strapped Writer,

I know it can be difficult to find time to write with a full/part-time job, kids, and all the daily responsibilities life brings. When you find yourself strapped for time, the best thing you can do is dedicate at least one hour a day to writing. One hour out of twenty-four, minus an average of eight hours for sleep, should be easy, right? If your answer is no, test out one or all of these ways to get more writing time into your day:

1. If you’re a morning person, set your alarm for one hour before you need to wake up to get ready for work. Pull yourself out of bed and turn on your computer while the coffee brews. You may be tired, but I often get the best pieces of insight for my stories when I’m tired, so sit down at your desk with your coffee and write. Don’t worry if it sounds bad or doesn’t make sense. Just write! By the end of the hour you could have 5-10 pages written. What a great way to start the day!

Image from Wikimedia

2. If you’re NOT a morning person (like me), do the opposite of the above tip. An hour before your bedtime, sit down to write. You can even do it in your pajamas in bed! Include writing into your nightly ritual and before you know it, you’ll be able to crank out several pages before you go to sleep.

3. When you’re at work, utilize your lunch break. It may only be 15-20 minutes long, but while you’re eating your sandwich, you can bust out your notebook and write a scene or conversation. The trick is to not edit while you’re writing but to let your thoughts and hand flow freely. If you can get something down during your lunch break, you may be excited to get home to continue writing.

Image from Wikipedia

4. Are you a big TV person? I am! And whenever I’m lounging on the couch watching my shows, I always have my notebook with me. The moment a commercial comes on, I pick up my pen to write. Some people would say this is counter-productive and that watching TV kills creativity, but writing is writing. There’s been times when I’ve only written a paragraph and other times when I’ve written a whole chapter.

The goal is to find those moments throughout your day when life calms down for a bit and taking that opportunity to write. Look at your daily life and pinpoint when those times are and then grab them with both hands.

QUESTIONS: Do you struggle to find writing time? When do you write?

Have a writing-related question? Leave a comment and I may turn it into a post right here!

See Also:

Author of Hurricane Crimes, 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. Blogger. Reader. Auntie. Vegetarian. Cat Lover.

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Lisa Thomson said...

Love these ideas. I keep a spiral bound notebook on my night stand. I do both the late night (in bed) and early morning writing. I try to work on a project but sometimes it's just free writing about a dream I had or a random character, then I find a home for it later (if it's any good at all):)

Like Ray Bradbury says write about anything and don't think about where you're going to place it. It will find a home.
Thanks, Chrys for the inspiration!

M.C. Simon said...

Like always... a very good article. Thank you, Chrys.

Chrys Fey said...

@Lisa I love writing about my dreams! And mostly because I think I can turn them into books. ;) I like that quote. :)

@MC Thank you! :D

SK Anthony said...

These are great! Funny how we know, technically how we can squeeze in writing time, but need the reminder for us to have that face-palm moment.
I do struggle finding the time b/c my 4 year old twins just don't understand "mommy is working" so I used to pull all nighters when they were younger. Now, I'm too tired from the day's activity but still use an hour or two when they go to bed. Cool post ;)

Liza said...

I am a Number 1 girl. I tend to get in 5-600 words a day that way, and after a point, it adds up.

Chrys Fey said...

@SK Having young kids makes writing difficult. I'm not a mommy but when I was a nanny to my toddler nephews, I couldn't get any work done while watching them. Then all I wanted to do was nap. lol

@Liza, that's awesome!

Liz A. said...

But my TV time is my knitting time!

Stephanie Bird said...

Chrys, I really appreciate these ideas. It's not that I'm strapped for time really but I'm finding excuses to feed my writer's block. These suggestions are gentle enough to help me break through! Thanks--very useful.

Chrys Fey said...

@Liz, at least your using your TV time to do another task. That's good! :)

@Stephanie, procrastination definitely leads to writer's block. I hope these tips help you. :)

Theresa Milstein said...

Great post! I totally agree. I wake up early to write in the morning. I've also been writing during lunch the last couple of years, though not lately because I'm student teaching. Hope to get the time back soon. At night, I'm too tired to write, so I really try to utilize the early times.

LD Masterson said...

I'm not sure this counts but I take my voice recorder when I walk the dog and work out scenes or plot problems as I go.

Of course, the playback sounds something like "have killer come in through...Sophie, no. You can't eat that!...okay, he comes in through the bedroom room window and...Sophie, not in the flowers...in the bedroom window and sees her lying on the bed and...No, you can't chase that squirrel..."

Chrys Fey said...

@Theresa, I am envious of those writers who can write in the morning. ;)

@LD, that certainly counts. I wish I had a voice recorder so I could so the same thing. HAHA! I loved your dialogue.

Jeffrey Scott said...

I struggle with finding time to write. But for me, it's probably more difficult convincing myself it's time to write. I let so many other things get in the way, and this includes TV watching.
Starting in May, I'm going to start cutting back on my blogging and other fun activities and set the goal of doing the one hour a day challenge.
I'd start in April, but I'm sure you are aware April will be a busy month. :D