Making Time to Write

It’s not easy to find writing time. So many priorities demand our attention that we’re often juggling writing with carpooling, cooking, child care, maybe a full-time job. Still, it’s possible to carve out writing time if we’re persistent.

In a Writer’s Handbook article, freelancer Shirley Jump revealed how she managed to free up enough time to write dozens of articles, two books and numerous corporate materials a year while tending to two children and family responsibilities.

She woke at 4:30 every morning with the help of an alarm clock (placed across the room so she had to get up to shut it off), a coffeepot with a timer (and really good coffee), and a programmable thermostat (it turned on heat so her office was comfortable when she got there). Jump wrote five pages every day, then printed them out to edit throughout the day. She also kept a notebook with her for any other writing she was able to do.

Getting up early is one way to eke out writing time. Other writers eliminate time wasters like TV, videos, and junk mail, they combine errands to make the most efficient use of time and use the driving time for writing-related activities, or they check email once a day or less often, and sign onto the Internet only after reaching their daily page goals. Some write by talking into a digital recorder during the commute to and from their jobs, or carpooling (after dropping off the kids), or driving to the grocery store or cleaners.

Many say they cut down on the time spent on household chores and ask, do you really have to dust every week? Do you spend time ironing non-essential items? Can others in the household do laundry and fold and put away clothes? Can you hire someone to take over the most time-consuming chores?

Another way to free up time, says freelance writer, Moira Allen, author of Writing.com and editor of “Global Ink” is to “teach others to respect your time. Sometimes that means refusing to answer the telephone or even turning off the ringer.

“Protecting your time means cultivating the art of saying ‘no,’ ‘later,’ and ‘I have to go now,'” Allen said. “At first, this may seem the most difficult task of all, but eventually you will realize that your new attitude hasn’t caused the rest of the world to view you as an ogre — and you’re actually getting some quality writing done.” You can read more of Moira’s advice here.

Freelancer Kelly L. Stone, who has been published in Family Circle, Writer’s Digest and many other publications, began her writing career while holding down a full-time job. She carved out quality writing time by making, and keeping, writing appointments with herself.

In her article, “How to Find Time to Write Despite Your Busy Life,” she advised:

“Work hard to keep that writing appointment. Treat it like it’s ‘real,’ just like an appointment with the doctor or at your child’s school. The only way to do this is to exercise self-discipline and make yourself follow through.”

When you do manage to carve out writing time, it’s important to reward yourself, Stone said.

“You want to associate positive feelings with that self-discipline you’ve been practicing. It reinforces the behavior and increases the chances that you’ll do it again. So at the end of each week that you keep your writing appointments, do something nice for yourself. Take a bubble bath, get a pedicure, have a romantic dinner with your spouse, or buy your favorite author’s latest release. You can even reward yourself at the end of each writing session. For example, if I write for thirty minutes, I can watch General Hospital.”

Kelly has a wealth of other time-savers in her article. You can find it here.

Please share your time-saving tips here. We’d love to learn from you.

© 2008 by Laverne Daley

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One Comment on “Making Time to Write”

  1. Peggy says:

    Laverne, I don’t spend time ironing non-essentials, that’s for sure : ) For me, it isn’t time that’s a problem anymore. It’s discipline, I guess. If I don’t have a deadline, it’s difficult.

    By the way, I’m linking to you in my post about digital subscriptions tomorrow at http://www.treehuggingfamily.com. I submitted to Plenty (the mag that you e-mailed me about), but I haven’t heard anything yet.


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