As an author, I know what it’s like to write under a deadline, no matter what chaos is going on in my life.
It’s not always easy to find time to write, especially if you’re waking up early for your commute, working full-time, and coming home to spend just a few precious hours with your kids and husband before you collapse into bed for the night, only to wake up and do it again the next day.
Weekends are often filled with all those errands we need to run but don’t have time for during the week, and any free moments you have, you (understandably) want to spend them hanging out with your family or actually *relaxing* instead of sitting in front of your computer, pounding out words.
I get it. I’ve been there! For those of you who are looking for ways to find more time to write, here are my top 7 suggestions:
1. The simplest — though not easiest — way to find more time to write is to give up on something else that you already do. For me, that thing is almost always sleep. Since I’m a night owl, I prefer to stay up an hour later instead of waking up an hour earlier, but everyone has different times of the day when they are at their best for writing.
2. If giving up sleep just isn’t possible, give up your favorite TV show. I know — that’s your half-hour or hour of relaxation time you spend cuddled on the couch with your special someone! But… if you can give up your TV or movie chill-out time, you will earn that time back to put toward writing.
3. If you already don’t sleep, and you don’t watch TV, there may be some time you’re spending online or on your smart phone that can be better utilized. Perhaps now is the perfect time to give yourself a daily time allotment for social media: limiting Facebook to 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening, for example, might be just what the doctor ordered. I’ve even known authors who announce their planned temporary absence to their followers, then turn off all notifications and delete the app from their phone until their book is written!
4. In a similar vein, you may want to limit replying to emails to certain hours, and set an auto-response to go out the rest of the day, letting people know you will be checking emails between (for example) 7am and 9am, and 4pm to 6pm, Monday through Friday, and that you’ll get back to them then.
5. Consider using voice-to-text software. I have used Nuance’s Dragon Naturally Speaking, personally, and found it helpful to be able to dictate into a voice recorder while driving, cooking, doing the dishes or folding the laundry. At the end of the day I plug my recorder into the computer and hit “Transcribe.” It’s like magic, coming back to check on it twenty minutes later and seeing dozens of new pages sitting on my desktop!
6. Write on your phone in tiny spurts. Waiting on line at the grocery store? Write as much as you can before it’s your turn to check out. Write during your lunch break, or any time you pull out your phone to check Twitter or a text message. Ideally, you’ll have your WIP on your phone available to edit and work on, and have that synced to the one on your laptop, but doing it the “old-fashioned way“ by just sending yourself an email and copy/pasting your new words into your manuscript later works just fine too. I know of an author who wrote her entire debut book on her phone, with her thumbs!
7. When all else fails, go big: plan a writing weekend. Book a motel room if you can, hide the TV remote, wake up early, and write as much as humanly possible, stopping only to eat and use the bathroom — bring a cooler of food and snacks, and make use of the room fridge. If you start Friday night and write all day Saturday and Sunday before returning to your life on Monday morning, you can conceivably write your entire first draft. 6pm-11pm Friday, plus 8am-11pm Saturday and Sunday at 2k words per hour equals 70K words in a weekend! Your hands and back WILL start to hurt, so bring a heating pad and some ibuprofen, plus copious amounts of coffee and chocolate. If you decide to bring a writer friend to split the costs, limit talking to planned 5 minute breaks, or they’ll talk you right out of your word binge! It’s fun to be competitive and do “Word Wars” where you set a timer and see who can write the most words in a 45-minute or hour segment.
I hope these suggestions help if you’re looking for time to write. If you have any suggestions I didn’t include on how to get your book written, feel free to email me and I’ll include the best tips in the next newsletter!