This is a common concern from some authors. How do I work my job, spend time with my family, enjoy some just-relaxing time, and still find time to write? Here are some ideas.
One way is to just sneak in a few minutes or an hour here and there. Unless you’re facing a deadline, this can be very effective. The main challenge is continuity. How do you pick up the thread of your last session? The time spent re-reading and thinking about where you want to go next may be equal to setting aside longer writing sessions. However, this may be offset by taking time off between sessions, allowing your mind to create new thoughts or pathways. And surprisingly, if you do these short sessions somewhat regularly, your book, article or paper will get written, in time. The key is to really focus during these short bursts of writing, making sure that you’re free of distractions.
Another possibility is to take a sabbatical from your job (or you daily life) and write full time. This, of course, depends on your circumstances and risk tolerance. The way to think about this is that writing becomes your full-time job — and it requires discipline. You have to put in the same eight hours a day that you did when you were working or raising a family. And yes, you’re allowed to take breaks, including lunch, but you do need to put in the hours that you traded your other life for.
If you’re writing a book that requires research (e.g., data, background, history, etc.), you can reserve your time for writing by using outside resources for that effort. This can range from pricey experts or consultants to free internships from a local high school or college. The latter can be a win-win — you get to focus on writing, and the intern gains valuable experience.
Yet another option is to schedule your writing time just as you’d schedule an appointment. The trick here is to plan your work for that appointment, so your time is spent effectively. Again, you need to assure that distractions are reduced to a minimum. If you can work at home, that’s fine. If you’re single, usually no problems there. If you have a family, maybe write when the baby is napping or the kids are in school, or when your (cooperative) spouse takes the kids for an outing. However, you may sometimes have to adjourn to a library or coffee shop to create the right atmosphere.
The next idea involves the time of day you write. Some people are morning writers, even rising before work or before the family day gets started. Some folks are night owls, preferring to write in the wee hours of the morning. These golden writing hours allow you to get down on paper all the ideas that you thought of during the day or the previous day.
People who are goal-setters have another approach. They set realistic deadlines for themselves for chunks of their writing — whether it’s a certain number of pages per session, or completing a chapter by a certain date, or the like. These people also tend to keep their projects organized, so they don’t waste time. If you’re one of these types, your next step is to set some writing goals for yourself and put your plan into action.
Finally, writing should be fun. Authors who struggle with perfection or don’t have a clear writing direction tend to struggle. Finding an excuse for not writing, then, becomes the clear choice. However, authors who have so many ideas swirling in their head or are full of enthusiasm to tell their story can’t way to sit down in front of their keyboard to get it on paper. Hopefully, you’re one of these.
So, if you’re not finding time to write, maybe one of the above ideas will get you on track. There’s no time like the present.
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