5 Lessons I Learned on Finding Time to Write
Do you ever find it a challenge to make time to write? Between work, writing, social media, and the need to get away occasionally, there doesn’t seem to be enough timeto do everything! I don’t suppose anyone has a time travel machine where we could add a few hours to the day?
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Barring time travel, these are some things I’ve discovered:
- Make writing a priority. I used to wait for inspiration to write. Consequently, I didn’t always get much done. Then I worked with another writer who didn’t put any priority on writing — everything else was more important. I envisioned myself making a mad dash to finish a book for a publisher at the last minute because I wasn’t making it a priority either, and I didn’t like it. So I started writing more regularly.
- Commit to hitting the keyboard regularly. It doesn’t matter what time, as long as it works for you. Some writers wake up an hour earlier to write. After getting up at 4:30 in the morning for the Army, no, I just can’t do that. Besides, I’m still half asleep. So I try for every night around the same time. One of the members of my critique group has been setting the goal of writing for fifteen minutes. It’s whatever gets words on the page.
- Set doable goals. I admit it. I hate word count goals. When I’ve tried them, I end up at a point where I’m paying attention to the word count and not producing good writing. That wastes my time because then I have to fix it. My goals are often much more simple, sometimes as simple as just getting something done. I’ve also used story goals like “Develop relationship between Keymas and Olive.” The goals have to be something where you can do them in a sitting and feel satisfied.
- Grab time where available. I bought a netbook so I could take it to places where all I’m doing is sitting — doctor’s office, mechanic, airport. Then I have the option of doing some writing while I’m waiting. I still haven’t worked up to doing it on a flight yet — it’s just too cramped and uncomfortable. But I have taken the netbook with me to science fiction conventions and gotten a bit of writing in at odd times.
- Take time off. Just as important as writing regularly is, it’s even more important to take a vacation to let the muse recover. Garrison Keillor notes that you can lose “touch with the beautiful world” by not taking time off. When I was trying to break into screenwriting, I wrote so much that I burned myself out. I never realized how important it was to take breaks!
Even so, I always feel like I need to do better. I read about people writing 2,000 words a day, and I’m stuck on a scene that takes several weeks to write. I have to constantly push myself to do better.
Your turn: What kinds of challenges have you found in finding time to write? How have you worked it into your schedule? I want to hear what you’ve tried. Please post your comments below.