Finding time to write when you’re already crazy busy is a challenge. I’ve been writing (with a mind to being published) since I was 27. I’ve raised three kids in that time, launching a journalism career, begun teaching writing online, and written several novels. Is it easy? No way.
So many writers tell me they are struggling to find time to write. And I get that. I’ve had seasons where I was trying to write while raising three close-in-age children and working part time, working full time, volunteering, etc.
So many try and fit writing into their free time, their spare time. The problem with this idea of spare time is that we look at our day and never see any consistent blocks of spare time. There’s a reason for that though — who likes to be bored? We find things to fill our time. So we look back on our day and can’t see anyplace where we could fit in writing.
**Stuff happens, life happens, I get that. Sometimes you just get swamped and all you can do is keep your head above water. I don’t write in those seasons either.**
“I want to challenge you on this idea of spare time…Redefine how you’ll spend your day. Some of you are spending one or two or three hours a day checking email – something that none of us did 25 years ago. Everyday, people manage to do a thing, a patterned thing, and think they have no spare time but their next door neighbour is training for a marathon and she’s still doing great at work…reprioritize what spare time means.”
…if you can dig deep and say yes, this is important to me, you’ll find the time.”
If writing is something you want to be more than a hobby, you have to put in the time. You have to study, write, be critiqued, revise–all of it. Over and over again. That’s the only way I know of to move your craft to the next level. There’s always a next level.
A Spare Time Example
Many of you may not be in the season of life I’m about to describe, your situation may be different, but here’s how I redefined spare time when I was home with three close-in-age small children. I couldn’t get large chunks of time to write, I couldn’t even find a consistent time of day I could set aside a few minutes to write. I learned to make use of the inbetween moments.
When the kids were playing in the yard, I would bring a craft book and highlighter out and work on that. Something I could pick up and put down without getting upset, something I couldn’t get so engrossed in I couldn’t step in and prevent disaster when I needed to. This is also how I edited my mss. I printed it off, and each time we went outside, I’d grab another chunk of pages and get through as much as I could.
I read craft books and watched videos while I did dishes or folded laundry. I’d take the kids outside for an “adventure” which might have been a walk, a trip to the park, or a trip to the library. As long as they had a chance to run off some energy, they’d play quietly for an hour when we got home and I’d sit with my notebook (in the days before I had a laptop) and write another chapter.
At least once a week, I’d get an evening free (hubs did bedtime solo) and I could really dive deep into writing fiction, but those times were wasted if I hadn’t put the work into revising what I’d already written, researching the next section, or planning/brainstorming where the story would go next. Those inbetween moments meant I made the most of the time I did get to write.
I entered contests just to get the critique. A $20 entry fee is a cheap critique. I saved up in order to attend one writer’s conference a year. It was fairly local, so there weren’t many travel costs. It was a breath of fresh wind in my sails. It was a yearly deadline to aim for to have work ready to pitch or get critiqued.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”You have time to write when you make time to write. @lisahallwilson #amwriting” quote=”You have time to write when you make time to write. “]
Maybe you could get up an hour earlier every day, or stay up an hour later. Maybe you could use your hour long lunch break to do work – was it Mark Dawson who wrote his first bestseller using only his commute time on the train? Leave a craft book you want to read in the bathroom.
Reprioritize writing and you’ll find you have many “spare” moments where you can work on your writing.
Where could you find some “spare time” in your day to write? Could you give up something? Could you reprioritize so writing gets done before this or that? How would you set up some accountability?