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If you are like most new writers then you are probably struggling with how to actually make time to get any writing done. Don’t feel disheartened by this, you are not alone.
So how can you make to time for writing with your busy schedule? There are 10 keys to finding time to write in the face of a hectic life that does it’s best to stop us from doing so at every turn. Here they are 10 keys to making more time to write:
- Acknowledge the Challenge
- Raise the Bar on Yourself
- Define Your Goals
- Prioritize Your Time
- Cut the Fluff
- Make Sacrifices
- Set Deadlines
- Hold Yourself Accountable
- Have a Good Support Structure
- Be More Productive with the Writing Time You Have
Each of these tips or keys to making more time to write will help you get more words on paper, more consistently.
There are really only 2 ways to get more writing done.
Increase the amount of time you have to write.
Increase the number of words you get on paper with the time you do have.
In the rest of this article will take a closer look at each of the tips above and specifically how they help you either increase the number of minutes you have to write or the number of words you produce with those minutes.
The majority of the article will give you tangible action filled steps to increase the physical minutes you have to write, but we will also touch upon little tricks to increase the number of words you get done in that time.
Intro: Why Do So Many Writers Struggle With Finding Time to Write?
Like we said above you are definitely not alone when it comes to struggling to find time to write. The reason so many of us find it hard to find time to write is that most of us are trying to balance a burning desire to become a writer against countless other life priorities we’ve already been enlisted in.
Being a writer is the ultimate catch 22, you don’t need any special invitation or credentials to start writing, but you usually don’t get the luxury to just sit down and write until you’ve already published a few successful books.
The fact of the matter most of us are juggling competing priorities. If you are reading this article then you are one of the millions of people who want to write a book but have their time taking up with at least a few of these real-world time intensive obligations.
- Full-Time Employment
- Raising Children
- Taking Care of Pets
- Full-Time Student
- Taking Care of Sick Loved One
- Managing Your Own Health Issues
- Trying to Get Healthy Again
You get the point, most of us can identify with at least a few of these daily obligations, no matter which ones they are they leave us very little free time. For me, I balance spending time with my amazing wife and a full-time job that is very time intensive and requires quite a bit of travel, along with helping to take care of our puppy lazy puppy Lilly.
Not to mention trying to lose some weight and get healthier, which doesn’t exactly go hand and hand with spending even more time sitting and punching words out on your keyboard.
But what if I told you all of that is very real, yet it is still very possible to be a writer. Let’s take a look at the 10 Tips on how to make time to write more consistently.
Tip #1: Acknowledge Your Specific Time Constraints and Poof! You’ll Find More Time To Write
Above we laid out some of the most common obstacles a writer may have when trying to find time to write. You may be balancing a full-time job and having children, which counts as two more full-time jobs by the way, or some other variation of time commitments that keep you from currently writing as often as you’d like.
The first step is identifying your obstacles. We are all different, and each of our time commitments varies as well.
So step 1 is clearly identifying your own personal time constraints to see exactly how much time you currently have available to you. This is your baseline writing time. So the goal of this article will be to increase your writing time from baseline.
- Write out your own personal time constraints.
- The way I like to do this is, break out my 24 hour day into 30-minute blocks. (You can do 15 if you want to account for your time even more accurately)
- List Your Non-Negotiables- This is where you need to put any time that is completely non-negotiable each day. ie. Time at Work, Taking care of the Kids, Taking care of a sick parent. etc.
- Add how much sleep you require to feel fully rested– (Notice I said fully rested, not so little as to be a non-functioning walking zombie and not so much as to act like you don’t have a care in the world.)
- Add Time To Your Schedule for Eating, Commute, Showering, and anything else that needs to be done on a daily bases.
- Now add up those 30-minute Blocks and Get a total
- Subtract that total from 24 HRs in a day
- Notice the total: It’s probably much more than you originally thought. But even if it isn’t write down the remaining time you have left over each day to write.
This time is your baseline writing time. The reason I wanted you to start with this number in mind is so we know what we have to write with before we make any changes. Now some of you may be staring at some hard cold math, meaning you have 1-2 hrs available right now from the available 24 hours.
Some of you will say, yeah but that that’s without any social interaction, watching any tv, or spending even a minute on social media. You may have noticed none of those things were listed on your daily time schedule. That wasn’t an oversite. I wanted to show you exactly how much time we have available even when we don’t think we have any.
If you are one of those people having an epiphany right now, staring at a couple of free hours per day that could be spent writing if you cut out every non-essential activity. (This is most of us by the way) You might be done, if you are serious about writing and it takes priority over anything not named an essential life function. Then this is as far as you have to go.
I’m not suggesting you become a hermit for the rest of your life, nor is that realistic but I did want you to take a cold hard look at the facts and see exactly what the playing field looked like when you gave some structure to your day. But, if you take a hard look at the remaining time you have in a day after setting time aside to take care of all your essential priorities there is a good chance you have some remaining time available to redirect towards writing.
At the end of the day, that’s all we can really do, redirect portions of the 24 hour day towards writing from another activity. So take stock of that remaining time, and circle it. That is the baseline of time you could reallocate from another activity to writing.
The remaining tips will focus on adding to that number and helping you make more out of it.
Tip #2: Raise The Bar On Yourself to Get More Writing Time
This one may seem like some kind of crazy Jedi mind trick, and well it is. I never seise to be amazed at the human condition and just how amazing it is. The world is filled with people that overcome crazy odds to achieve great things every single day.
So why do we struggle to make time to write when it is something that is clearly in our control. Well because writing is hard work, and life is already filled with tons of hard work. So if we don’t go easy on ourselves, then who will?
I contend that we should do exactly the opposite.
In my day job, I am constantly speaking with my team on how we can maximize performance.
I often tell them, the bar they set for themselves should always be higher than the bar I set for them.
Does that sound like hokey leadership development speak, well maybe a little? But I really challenge you to take a minute and think about that last statement, and truly try to refute it. I think if you acknowledge just how hard it is to achieve anything great in this life, that it’s really only you that can dictate that success or failure.
For those of you may respond better to a lesson delivered through humor. Here you go, take a look at this quick 30-second scene from Crazy, Stupid, Love:
It’s the same principle as “Be Better Than The Gap”.
“We will be what we expect ourselves to be. We will accomplish only what we decide is worth working for. We will make as much time to write as we prioritize and have our writing time limited by only as much as we will tolerate.”- Me
Expect more from your time. You can accomplish more with the time you have. Don’t take my word for it. This is an old adage known as Parkison’s Law which says work will expand to take up the time it is alotted.
So raise the bar on yourself and allot more work in the time you have! This is the easiest way to get more writing done unless you have a magical way to get more hours in the day.
Tip #3: Define Your Writing Goals to Know How Much Time is Needed to Hit Them
It is truly amazing to see what will happen when a goal is well defined. Too many writers treat writing as some nebulous goal that is floating around in the ether just taking its sweet time to land in your lap. I’ve definitely been guilty of this.
Many years went by where the thought of writing would jump in and out of my mind, as something that would be nice doing one day. But not until I made the conscious decision to define and commit to my goals did I make any progress towards publishing my first book. Noble Origins, Episode One of the Omega Conspiracy Series. (Click the link to check it out on Amazon)
So don’t be afraid of committing to a goal. Sometimes we think if we don’t commit, we can’t fail and let ourselves down. But the truth is the only way we will fail is if we don’t commit.
Make sure when you make your writing goals they are in S.M.A.R.T format.
- S- Specific: A goal needs to be specific. example of a specific goal: Write 1000 words every day
- M- Measurable: Example: Complete Episode One (20,000 Words)
- A- Actionable: Example: Write for 90 minutes a day every morning between 6:30 and 8
- R- Realistic: Nothing hurts hitting a goal more than not setting a realistic goal in the first place. Make sure your goal makes sense and is realistic, if you aren’t currently writing any words don’t make your goal, I want to spend 5 hours a day over the next 5 days to write 10000 words a day and finish my 50K word novel in a week.
- T- Time Bound: Make sure you have a date by which you want to accomplish your goal. Example: I want to write my first book in the next 90 days. Read this if you want to how to write a book in 90 days.
This step will allow you to get more words out of the baseline writing time you identified above.
Break your goals into manageable bite-size bits. This will allow you to make the most out of smaller windows of time. If you have a daily word count goal and writing time goal. ie. Write for 90 minutes a day and hit at least 1000 words written each day.
But you are struggling to get 90 minutes together to write, it may be easier to break your goal down further. So you can turn the above goal into something like this. I want to spend 3 – 30-minute writing sprints each day, where I write at least 333 words during each sprint.
In this scenario, it wasn’t that you didn’t have 90 minutes in your day, the real issue was that the 90 minutes weren’t stacked in a nice neat block of writing time. This is probably the case for most of us by the way. So make your goal more manageable by breaking it into smaller writing increments.
Tip #4: Prioritize Your Time by Reclaiming Some of It Around Writing More
Up to this point, we have taken a lot of steps around getting mental hurdles out of our way. In this step, we will look for chances to turn time otherwise committed to something else into new writing time.
What we are looking to do here is find more writing minutes in your current schedule. Here are a few common spots where extra writing time might be hiding in your day. You can look to steal some writing time from these activities without re-arranging your schedule.
- Your Commute: If you aren’t the one driving of course. But this is a great time to get a ton of writing done. The best part is that it happens every day, at least every day you aren’t too physically ill to make it work and thus probably too sick to write as well. You can get into a great writing groove by simply turning your dead commute time into a newly found writing time!
- Between Classes: If you are a full-time student you probably have some time between classes where you aren’t studying or doing homework. Turn this into writing time!
- Helping Kids with Homework: This one depends on the child and the homework, but you can turn homework time into a fun game to get some of your own writing done. Sit down at the table and after you help your kids with the instructions or with any help they need. Tell them you have your own homework to do and need to finish your writing for the day. You might be surprised how quiet they can be when mommy and daddy are sitting right beside them working too.
- On Walks: If you are someone that goes on daily walks for fresh air and exercise it may sound crazy but this could be a great time to get some words on paper. I’ve done this myself. You will need to use dictation for this since strapping a lap-top in the baby Bjorn isn’t exactly a good look. If you are interested in learning more about the best dictation software to use when you are on the move read this.
- On Lunch: If you are stuck at the office for a prolonged period of time, take that lunch break time and turn it into writing time.
- While Cooking: If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen every night and have some elaborate recipes that take time between steps, then feel free to fill that time with some writing.
Here’s a tip, don’t try to implement all of these. It’s not feasible to write every waking minute of the day. Just pick one or two that make sense for you that you think you can actually pull off every day and give it a try.
By simply turning this time into prioritized writing time, you will be amazed at the progress you see when it comes to writing more words every day.
Tip #5: Cut the Fluff in Your Day in Favor of More Writing Time
We all have our moments where we are less than productive. If you are still struggling to find writing time at this point, or maybe just want to amp your production up even further. It’s time to cut the fluff out of your day.
Now everyone definition of fluff is different when it comes to wasting time. But regardless of your definition, you have to admit there is probably some in your day, that you can cut out.
Here are some common Fluff type time wasters we all do:
- Social Media– Yes it can be a part of marketing when you are an author, but you know what’s a bigger part, having a completed book. So if you spend time on facebook or twitter cut it out of your day to make time for writing. Or at the very least give yourself a specific amount of time to do it and stick to it.
- Watching TV– Listen I can Binge watch some Netflix with the best of them but is that helping me write more, no.
- Youtube: We can get sucked in the video watching blackhole pretty easily. It may even be watching videos about writing and self-publishing. But you need everything in moderation, especially if they are keeping you from writing.
- Reading Blogs like this: I’m probably the only blogger who is ever going to tell you to spend less time on his blog. But you need to if you are going to maximize time for writing. Get the info you need, take action and start writing. In general, try to limit time to surfing the web to an amount that doesn’t interfere with the writing goals you committed to.
- Talking on the phone: If anyone still does this. But it’s easy to kill 40 minutes on the phone with friends and family that you could have put to better use writing.
Tip #6: Make Sacrifices to Spend More Time Writing
I know no one wants to hear this one. But you need to be willing to sacrifice to accomplish your writing goals. So you may need to sacrifice some of the other things you love to make more time to write and follow your author dreams.
Here are some of the sacrifices you may not want to give up but could really add up in terms of time you can reallocate towards writing.
- Cut Back on Date Night: This isn’t one you should cut back unilaterally by the way. But tell your spouse about your writing goals and maybe cut it back to half of what you currently do.
- Friends Night Out: You may need to give up some of that precious friend time to write. Tell them why so they understand. If they are good friends and your honest with them they should understand.
- Reading Time: Most writers love to read, and you should! But you may want to cut back on the number of books you read each month to bring your own into the world.
- Shopping: Cut down on shopping time to have more free time for writing. Use online services or meal/grocery delivery services to cut down on food shopping.
Tip #7: Set Deadlines for Your Writing
Remember how we talked about the importance of having goals and making them S.M.A.R.T. Well, you need to set deadlines for yourself to stay accountable.
This is one of the drawbacks to being self-published. Without a publisher breathing down your neck to finish your manuscript, it’s easy to let deadlines come and go. But don’t cut yourself any slack when it comes to your deadlines unless you had a true emergency.
Commit to your deadline, make it realistic. Then and only then can you know what your daily production level needs to be to accomplish your writing goals.
Yes, you guessed it, when you know what your daily production goal is, then you can figure out how much writing time you need each day to hit it.
Tip #8: Hold Yourself Accountable to your Writing Goals
This one kind of goes hand and hand with setting goals and deadlines. But you can be your own best friend or worst enemy when it comes to writing more. If you take the time to set your writing goals the way I’ve outlined above, then respect yourself enough to hold yourself accountable.
Here are some ways to hold yourself accountable:
- Set and track your daily word count goals. If you are using Scrivener to write your book, which is what I suggest, you can do this write in the software.
- Write down your goals
- Share your goals with someone else
- Set up weekly meetings with an accountability coach- keep these short. lol
- Verbalize your goals to other people
- Put your goals out there for the world to see on your social media as you are explaining why you won’t be on as much moving forward.
Tip #9: Tap Into A Strong Support Structure to Complete Your Writing
Once you have shared your goals with other people, surround yourself by those most supportive in your life. Tell them you are counting on them to hold you accountable if you slip up.
Thank them for their support in advance.
Tell them you may need to opt out of some activities for the good of writing and finishing your book. Give them a shout out in it when it’s done.
Explain why this is important to you, and see if they have any suggestions to find more writing time. There perspective or expectations of you might be completely different than what you think they are. This can cause unnecessary stress if you think you are letting people down by making more time to write when those people might have the complete opposite impression.
If you have any family or friends that have skills around writing or editing, feel free to incorporate them into the process. As long as they can give honest constructive feedback.
Tip #10: Make the Most Out of the Writing Time You Have
Remember at the beginning of this article we talked about two ways to get more words on the page. We have spent the majority of this guide talking about ways to find more time to write. Increasing the number of total minutes dedicated to writing is definitely a great way to increase writing productivity.
The second way to increase your writing productivity is to get more done with the writing time you have. There are many ways to do this so let’s focus on a few things you can do to ensure you are maximizing your word count every time you sit down at the keyboard.
- Go From Typing to Dictating: This one takes a bit of practice to get a handle on, but when you master it, you will at least double the number of words you can write per minute. The average human speaks 150 to 160 words per minute, where the average person will type around 40 words per minute. As you can see by simply dictating your novels, you can greatly outpace the level of productivity you could ever hope to achieve typing. Visit this page for more information on the best dictation software for upping writers word counts.
- Improve Your Skills: Your writing skills will undoubtedly get better and faster the more you write. So you know you will have accelerated word counts coming to a page near you soon. But if you want to actively push the limits of that writing productivity consider taking some classes in areas that you feel deficient.
- Basic Typing Course (Improve Your Typing Speed, think of it as training your muscle the same way an athlete would)
Here is a quick little video on how to increase typing speed:
- Writing Skills Courses From the Masters: (Improve your writing craft and technique to improve your overall writing skill and speed)
- 30 Day Book Writing Boot Camp
- Scrivener Skills Course
I hope you find these tips for improving your writing productivity useful and if you combine some of the tips on this page, you will undoubtedly be writing more in no time.
The Conclusion of our How to Make Time To Write Guide
You have taken the first step in finding more time to write. You have dedicated a few minutes of your life to find out actionable ways to get more writing time into each day. Now all you have to do is decide which suggestions work best for you and implement them.
Remember don’t try to implement everything all at once. That will be impossible and make it even harder to see what is really working. Try one method at a time, and that stack them like pancakes on top of each other to get even more writing time in your day.
As Always, Thanks for Reading and More Importantly Writing!