As a writer one barrier that many of us face is finding the time to write. We get the plot figured out, or need time to develop it. Then there are those characters we’ve fallen in love with that need a story. Or we need to find that time to brainstorm ideas. No matter what stage you’re in, there’s one common issue present:
We need time to write.
So then, the question is how to make that time?
If your like me, it can feel impossible. When I became serious about writing, I got overwhelmed . I have a rambunctious five year old, go to school full time, work part time, and have a house to take care of with my husband. How was I supposed to find time to work in writing? The snatches of the between classes or when AJ went to bed weren’t enough. Finally I got serious. Here are the five things I learned about making time to write:
#1- Choose Writing
What that means is, you can’t find time to write, you have to make time to write. Writing, like any other activity, is something that you want to do. It’s a hobby or a passion, something that has to have practice to help you grow as a writer. For me, it’s a passion, something I love to do and want to make a career out of. Ask any family member of my family, they’ve all got stories of me trying to write when I should’ve been doing other things. But like any other hobby or passion you have to put practice on your priority list. Sometimes this will mean instead of watching an extra bit of TV, you put your writing above that.
Another part of this comes from the people around you. Most folks will be supportive and encouraging. But you may find that these same people don’t understand you need time to write. They don’t mean any harm, the invitations to do things are not meant to interrupt your writing time. But, the trick is, it is OK to say no. If you want to let your loved ones know that this time is for writing, that’s fine. Be polite, but let them know you won’t make it this time. You’ve scheduled that time to write and it is OK to take that time. Which leads us to…
#2- Build writing into your schedule
Keeping a schedule can be a huge benefit, but also a daunting task. I’m that weirdo that is obsessed with time. I like to run things on clockwork when it comes to deadlines, which means I’ve kept a schedule for years now. But not everyone likes that kind of thing. I get that, I do, but this can be easy. I know from a few writer friends that they in particular balk at this idea. They don’t understand how I can keep a schedule like that and still allow my creativity to flow. And my challenge back is that it helps my creativity. When I’m talking about a schedule for writing, I’m not talking about this:
5:30am- Wake up/Write
6:00am-Take kids to daycare
6:30am- Grab breakfast
7:00 am- Arrive at work
Etc., etc., etc.
You can do this. But this is not what helps me build writing into my schedule. Instead, I like to start with a simple to do list for my week. I’ll list out my major goals for the week. For example, my list for the first week of January looks like this:
1. Work on Chapter 2 for Unity (my first novel in my Peace Seeker trilogy)
2. Finish January blog post prep
3. Write next week’s Fox Den post
4. Buy books for new semester
5. Register for classes (I’m starting my second degree as I finish up my AA)
6. Work on January short story
That’s a basic outline of my major goals this week. The great thing about this is that you can add anything you’ve got to get done to the list. Got a big speech to prep for? Throw some practice time in there. Kiddo has a soccer game? Put that in there too. Need to deep clean the spare room? Yep, get that on there. Anything you can think of can go on there. The point is you know the major things that you want to do that week.
The next part you can do many different ways. If your a person that likes to do a little bit each day, schedule little bursts of things in an hour break down. If you like to rank these by what needs to get done, do that. For me, what works best is to group things together. Those with similar goals, like the blog, get put into one category. Then I group my writing, which would be my Unity work and the short story for January. Finally, I have things that have a solid deadline. These are things like getting registered before classes start and ordering my books. From there I make theme days (you’ll see I like themes). So the week may look like this:
Thus, I know what I’ll focus on each day. We’ll come back to Sunday in a little bit, but for now we’ll focus on the other days. This helps me, because I can go into each day with a focus. If I know on Wednesday that I’m going to be working on Unity, I’ll hold off on getting the big chunks of work done until that day. Right now, I’ve devoted time to working on Unity every day (more on that in #3). This means that on the days I set apart I do thing like character sketches, world building and other things. This gives you a good idea of knowing when you have set time apart for your writing, which allows you to get to work. When you know how your schedule works you can…
#3- Create a writing plan
It’s pretty obvious by now that I am a big fan of having a plan. Something to create a road to follow makes my soul happy. Which means it shouldn’t come as a surprise that later this month we’ll be talking about outlines. But for now, having a plan when it comes to your writing is important not just for your writing. It’s also important for you as a person. A lot of times writers set large goals. ‘I’ll have my book done in XX days/months’, ‘I’ll write XX pages a day’, or ‘I’ll get published by XX’. These are great! I’m a big believer in reaching for the stars. But it can be hard to keep positive when these goals look so far away as we work through writing. Setting smaller milestones as stepping stones can make the world of difference. They are attainable. When you reach them it is a boost of accomplishment needed to keep pushing you toward those big goals.
I’ve found that when I don’t restrict myself with page quotas per day I get stressed and my creativity fails. Instead, I focus on spending a minimum amount of time on writing. Rather than focus on pushing out a certain number of pages, I focus on using that time I’ve set aside to the fullest. When I’m finished I find that I’ve gotten more done than I would have before. So, set goal, even the big ones. My big goal for 2018 for writing is to finish my rough draft of Unity. But, set smaller stepping stones. My goal for January is to have chapter two done and begin working on chapter three. But I’ve also got twenty minutes a day set as a minimum time to devote to the novel. Through it all, don’t forget…
#4- Don’t give up downtime
Wait a minute Kelsi, didn’t you just say to choose writing? Yes, I absolutely did, and you absolutely should. But remember, you’re not a robot. Neither am I. We all need to take a moment to put the pen (or laptop) down and step away. Never taking the chance to relax from even those activities that we love is not beneficial. It can turn that thing into work, or worse a chore. That’s the last thing you want your writing to become.
So don’t forget to do those things that help you let go and relax. Whether that’s a relaxing bath, a long run, some TV time, or enjoying a night out. This absolutely will help you as a writer. Not only will this allow you to come back feeling rejuvenated and energetic, but you never know what spark of creativity may come to you. Take that time to relax, simply because your writing will benefit as much as you will personally. But finally…
#5- Don’t be afraid to try different methods
I’ve tried a handful of ways to organize myself before I realized these methods worked for me. The great thing about many different sides of writing is that there are few solid rules. You as the writer can try dozens of different methods, and use what works for you. That’s what writing is all about: finding what works for you. There are lots of different tools, blogs, etc. out there to give you additional resources. This blog is one of them. It’s up to you as a writer to figure out what works and apply it. So go ahead, try different schedules, work on different goals, and in the end do what works for you.
And there you have it! My 5 simple ways to make time for your writing. Does it seem simple? I hope so. Although it may not seem like it at the beginning, making time does not have to be complex. It does not need to be a million pieces falling just right. It can and should be about setting your mind to it. Thanks for reading my Foxies!
Now that you’ve made some time to write, it’s time to set up goals for the new year! Next week we’ll cover goal setting for 2018.
Agree or disagree with my five ways? How do you make time to write? I’d love to hear about the ways you have found to make time for writing so leave a comment below!