What’s the biggest problem confronting most writers?
Finding time to write
Most of us juggle a full family life, full-time jobs, and other responsibilities. We’re already busy. How can anything else—even writing—be squeezed into an already jam-packed schedule?
I don’t have a solution that will solve the problem for every writer. Lives and schedules are too varied and complex for such a simple solution.
But I would like to suggest that the first step in finding your solution is changing the way you look at the problem.
For me personally, the real question was not how do I find time to write, but how can I make time to write. Why is that distinction important?
I’d always treated writing as something I did when I had large blocks of time available. Thirty minutes were good, but an hour was better. Even back then—before marriage, a major move, and new family obligations—there weren’t very many days when I could block off an hour of writing time unless I got up early or stayed up late. (Legitimate ways to make time to write, by the way.)
I had to stop trying to find large blocks of time and instead look for ways to make time to write.
Minutes Add Up to Hours
The easiest way to make writing time was to look at my daily routine. How was I already spending my time? What activities could I stop doing to make more time to write? Things like watching TV, for example. If I gave up one program a week, I’d have 30 to 60 minutes to write. That much extra time a week adds up pretty quickly.
But what about odd-and-end minutes throughout the day?
I worked at the local newspaper and usually ate lunch by myself. Sometimes in my car at a local park. It turned out that time was perfect for proofreading printed pages. I started carrying a notebook and red pen and proofreading while eating lunch. If I didn’t have something to proofread, I wrote longhand (this was before the days of laptops).
I also found bonus writing time just by keeping a pen and paper with me at all times. Jotting notes on things I saw or heard, ideas for new stories, or thoughts on the current work-in-progress allowed me to turn any moment into a writing moment.
Learn how to optimize even short blocks of time and you’ll find all kinds of room in your day-to-day schedule for short spurts of literary creativity. Here are just a few:
Are there five minutes in your usual morning routine? Maybe between the second and third cup of coffee?
How about lunch? Are there five or ten minutes to spare in that routine at least once or twice a week?
Your turn to cook tonight? Once the ingredients are assembled and you’re in a waiting period for something to simmer, heat, or roast, why not use that time?
Waiting in a doctor’s office? Forget the magazines. Do some writing.
With modern technology, it’s easier than ever to turn spare time into writing time. Dictate notes to your phone. Snap images of interesting locations. You can even record scene ideas or scenes if you wish and transcribe them later.
Make use of those odd moments scattered throughout most days and you’ll be surprised how much you can get done.