How to write when you don’t have time

He says: “I have no time to myself. I’m too tired to write after working all day and spending time with my family. But I’ve been writing this book for almost two years and I really want to get it done. How can I find time to write when there just isn’t any?”

She says: “I’m a single mom. I have two amazing kids, a full-time job and no family nearby to help. The last thing I have energy for at the end of the day is my book. But it’s been sitting in that damn desk drawer for six years. Six years. I want to finish it. I need to finish it. I keep thinking I’ll have time later. But later never comes.”

At some point, most writers find themselves with half of a story in their head, their drawer, their computer – with no time to finish. It sits there, languishing, beckoning the author for months or even years. We can’t seem to break free of day to day responsibilities to get it done.

We may feel guilty taking time away from our kids and spouses. We may be too tired after working all day. We may have other responsibilities and chores that take precedence.

This is the point where a writer learns who she is and how good.

If you truly want to write, then you don’t make time. You take it. Here are three easy strategies to just write.

Schedule it.

This is what separates the amateurs from the rest. You have to decide how important writing is to you. Does it deserve to share space on your calendar with your son’s wrestling match? Your daughter’s award’s night at school? Your day job? Block out an hour to write. If you’re home, hang a sign on your door. Explain to your family that you will not be available for that hour. Tell them why. This is not a hobby for you. This is real and tangible. You’re a writer. You need to write. No one will take it seriously – no one will respect it – if you don’t.

Focus.

Eliminate distractions. No answering the phone. Get off the internet. Take the hour – or however much time you choose – and dedicate it only to writing. Make it your time. Polish that manuscript. Free write. Build creative muscle. Get off Facebook.

Create pressure.

If you don’t have something leaning on you to get your writing done, you don’t have a reason to take time to do it. Sure, you have this burning in your gut to write. But if that were enough, your project would be finished by now.

You can make a deadline and tell your friends and family – people who will keep you on task. Find a critique partner and help each other. Pay someone, a coach or editor, to get you off your ass.

You want to get serious shit done? Be serious about it. Telling people your first book will be finished in a month is serious. Spending money is serious. In both cases, we don’t want to look stupid – for wasting money or not doing what we said we would do.

You can totally do this. You just have to want it.

5 replies
  1. Divorced Kat
    Divorced Kat says:

    I’ve been enjoying my new blog and I’ve been dedicated to posting every week. With that said, I know the day will come that I start to lose steam, so these tips will be very helpful.

    Reply
  2. Julie Grasso
    Julie Grasso says:

    I loved this post Rebecca and I totally agree. We have to just write. I have a toddler and severe tendonitis in my hand but I am determined that won’t stop me. Here’s what I did. I bought dragon dictate and it was the best thing I ever did. I can Write 2000 words in a few hours. Second I negotiate with my hub for toddler free hours on weekends. Sometimes I manage it on a weeknight, but most importantly, I set a deadline and I met it. Hooray. Best wishes on meeting yours.

    Reply

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  1. […] Becky Dickson, has pointed out that the mistake is making a list of life obligations and seeing when we can fit writing in around those. I took that point very much to heart, realizing that if writing outside of my 9 to 5 is important […]

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