One long weekend I discovered how true that old saying about busy people getting things done is. I packed my car with snacks, leaving the city for a little cottage in the middle of nowhere for a writing retreat. When I arrived I set up my laptop ready to work on my novel. But with nothing to do but write I managed to do everything else I could think of.
I convinced myself I needed to keep in touch with work and trekked around to find phone reception. I peeled carrots and cut up apples to feed the horses and the bull. I cooked extravagant breakfasts, lunches and dinners. I relocated the entire spider population living in and around the cottage to protect them from future and potentially arachnophobic visitors. I called my mum for about two hours everyday to update her on the comings and goings of a resident mouse I’d named Roquefort (thanks for always being there mum). I hardly got any writing done.
The experience taught me time is a sponge
You can soak it up with what little you have to fit into your day or you can wring it out and squash more in. While, like me, many writers can make procrastination seem like a career there are some ways we can manage our time to make sure we’re not too busy to write.
To make sure you’re being realistic about the time you can spend on your writing, first ask yourself:
- How much time have I spent on writing before now?
- How much time can I realistically spend on my writing now? A great way to find this out is to use the time finder.
- What actions do I need to take to ensure I do take time write?
- Who do I need to ask for help and support so I can free up my time?
- What activities can I give up to make time for writing?
Once you’ve answered all these questions you can begin working on and implementing a writing schedule. Writing will become more than a hobby – it will become a habit.
Why is it important to make writing a habit you ask?
About five years ago I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time. As the 1st of November loomed closer, all I could think was I’m not going to be able to write 1700 words a day! It was the busiest time of year at work, there were heaps of birthdays and pre-Christmas get togethers coming up, I’d booked into a fitness boot camp and a close family member was going through chemo.
But despite everything a little voice inside me kept saying I want to write a book. And so I did it. It was a huge challenge but everything worth doing is. And while the manuscript I wrote is still simmering in the bottom drawer, I learnt creating a writing habit is the easiest way to actually get writing done.
After NaNo when things settled down, instead of going back to non-essential activities like watching TV, I would write instead. I would take every free minute I had and use the time to write – whether I was on the train, waiting in the doctor’s office or at the dog park with Brielle. And while writing is what I do for work these days I always try to write at least 1000 words a day for me – whether that’s part of my novel, a blog post or simply a freewrite about what I’m feeling.
Here are tricks busy people can use to find time to write:
- Set Goals.
- Create and stick to a weekly schedule after you use the time finder.
- Join a writing group, team up with a writing buddy or sign up to a creating writing class. By having a deadline you’ll be more likely to stick to a writing schedule.
- Make a list of writing tasks that can be achieved in 25 minutes such as free writing, listing points for a blog post, developing a character, working on an opening or introduction etc. Set a tomato timer to make sure you stay on track.
- Treat your writing like a job (albeit a fun one!).
And remember few people do what they really want to in life. Don’t let time make you one of them.
What do you think of these time tips? Have you used any of them and have they proven successful? What are your writing time hacks? Let us know in the comments.