Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Finding time

So many people have said to me, "Oh, I wish I could write a book - but I just don't have the time!" (As if time were the only necessary element to writing). I often wonder about that. I'm a pretty busy gal myself. Now I only have one child, so I bow to those authors who are juggling the lives of their three kids, all going in separate directions. But still...
My child is active in two sports a year, and football is a time suck beyond all others. 
I work (part-time) and
go to Graduate School (part-time).
Guess who's Team Mom?
I manage slush for a small publisher
And I am active in two group blogs, plus am my own webmaster and I have my own blog.
I do my own book promotion.
I try and exercise five days a week. (you see how that's at the bottom of the list?)

But I still find time to write.

I think the key to finding writing time is a)scheduling and b) determination. You have to WANT to make time. And if are determined, you can make a schedule and stick to it. During the school year, I wake up at 5:30 am (yes, Virginia, there IS a 5:30 am) to read for school. At least half an hour. If I'm working that day, I have plenty of time to shower and all that. If I'm not working - bonus! I get my son up for school at 6:30 (he's a slow riser, like me). On Sundays I work on school stuff. Sometimes I write in the morning, sometimes at night, but I have a schedule and work around everything to find that writing time.

My schedule is flexible. This is key for me. Mostly I have a word goal of 500 words/day. Some days I write all 500 words at once, sometimes it's 250 in the morning and 250 at night. Sounds weird, but 500 words a day is 3,500 words a week, which is around a chapter for me, depending on what I'm working on. That's how you build a book - one word, one sentence, one paragraph, one chapter at a time. Even if it's 300 words, that's more than you had before, right? Some days I'll write 1,000 words and some 400, but it balances out in the end.

Once we're settled into the football season, I will take my netbook and write there, since practices are pretty much dead time for me. I write at work, when the kids in my class are at special. Or I'll read for school, which frees up some home time. I write at lunch. I take Boy to play at McDonalds and write. When he was little, I wrote while he napped, or in the blessed silence between when he would go to bed and my bedtime. I watch more Netflix than TV now, too. TV is a time suck, even the good shows.

There are all kinds of nooks and crannies of time to be had if you really want to write. Sometimes, other things suffer. I don't exercise as much during the school year (it's about priorities, don't judge me :P ). You might have to say no to things people ask of you. Not that I would know anything about that, I just never can seem to do it. Just squeeze it in - who needs to clean the house, right? You may need to turn off the Facebook and stop Twittering for just a little bit, but make it a reward, like I do - NO INTERNET until the words are done.

I won't give up my writing time, and I don't know a single writer out there who will. This is what we love, and even if we have to give up sleep, it will be done!

Think for a little bit - could you find more time if for something you REALLY want?


  1. Lately my writing time has really suffered. I haven't gotten into a good routine with the kids home from school. But your post is invigorating me and I WILL FIND TIME to write. Maybe even today!

  2. I know sometimes it's so hard, because it seems like everything else is demanding attention, but sometimes I just have to say "NO - I'm writing."

  3. I agree! I'm also homeschooling my son, so time gets tight. But one of my author friend's gave me this invaluable advice: Seize any opportunity that comes your way. That might mean writing in a notebook while your child is at soccer practice(my son is a huge soccer and skateboarder fan). I've also used a small recorder and taped myself while on long vacation car trips.

    I'm also Tivo TV programs and try to limit time watching as I agree, it's a big time suck.

    And the biggest thing I've learned to do is say, "no". Even Oprah had a show on this and how she had to learn to say this.

  4. I agree about television, it is a tool invented by dark forces to suck time from writers!

    I live in Ireland and split my time between two ends of the country, along with my 15 year old autistic son. I also find time to work in there somewhere, have family time and friends. I couldn't ever give up my writing time, it's what keeps me sane.

  5. My children are grown and gone from home, but my husband has health issues and I spend a lot of time taking him to treatments and doctors. I make writing a priority, though, and try to do two hours or 500 words every morning. Sometimes, I'm able to write more, which I love. Afternoons, I blog and do promo and answer emails. But I have to write, or I'd go crazy like Carol said. :)

  6. Any time spent in a waiting room is time to write too!

  7. Oh, yeah. I carry my laptop with me sometimes. :)

  8. When I take son to his art classes, I'll drop him off and go to the local Carls Jr with my laptop and write. It's great!

  9. I completely agree! This is why I always have a planner on hand: so I can schedule all the writing I need to do, as well as reading, school work, and all my other responsibilities, on a week-by-week basis. It definitely helps keep me on track when I'm at my busiest.

  10. I was just explaining this to someone. If you want to write novels or screenplays it MUST be a discipline. There is much time in the day. The pages add up quickly. JUST WRITE!

  11. Very true, Michael. If you don't write how do you expect to have a book?