Modern life is busy for all of us, especially those who juggle a publishing schedule, blog posts and readings on top of a nine-to-five job. So how do you manage to get your writing done? For the most part you have to make the time, so here are six tips for getting things done.
1. Think about the time you spend in front of the TV
How many hours a day do you spend in front of the TV? Many of you will consider this valuable recharge time but having a pen and paper in easy reach can be a godsend. Whether you decide to sketch out a scene or take note of a particular turn of phrase someone on TV has uttered, the time spent watching TV can be valuable “people watching time.”
2. Set a daily goal
Some days you don’t want to do anything, whether you’re looking for that all-important recharge time or you aren’t feeling with it enough to crack on.
It’s okay not to finish something every day, and you don’t have to have a daily word count to be successful. What’s important is making sure you have no “zero days.” That is, there should never be a day when you accomplish nothing. I think this is important for life in general but especially so if you’re trying to forge a successful writing career.
3. Use your phone
I’ve heard every iteration of the “no time to write” spiel and it’s simply not true. In your pocket is a tiny computer capable of taking notes at any turn. As Nora Ephron said, “everything is copy.” As a writer, you explore life and channel that into an art, and taking notes on your phone is a simple way of catching the moment and injecting that authenticity into your work.
I recommend Google Docs or Evernote to sync your notes in one place but the default note app on your phone is good enough if you check it regularly.
4. Don’t stop
It’s easy to miss a day. Sometimes you’re out the house before the sun’s up and you’re only back home long after it’s set. The important thing is to not let that zero-day become a zero-week. The easiest way to create a writer’s block is to stop writing for an extended period of time. If you have to have a zero day, that has no bearing on the next day, so pick up a pen at the next available opportunity and get back on with the grind.
5. Be efficient with your writing
Maybe the problem you’re having isn’t that you don’t have time to write but that you’re not spending your time on the right writing. If your novel has been sitting unloved for months on end, maybe it’s time to stop posting to your blog every day.
While some platforms will penalise you for not posting, remember the point of a blog is to promote your work. You can’t do that if you don’t have a product to promote. Your readers will forgive you if it means they get to read something more substantial.
6. Learn the art of 5 minutes
Everyone can do something for five minutes a day. You probably spend more time than that in the bathroom or labouring over simple decisions you’ve already decided on.
The world will do everything it can to steal those five minutes from you but it’s up to you to block out the world and JUST WRITE.
You don’t need to write a whole scene in a single sitting, you can come back and edit any discrepancies in your voice later.
Stealing six blocks of five minutes back every day gives you a full half hour of writing each day. That’s a respectable amount of time, and once you add in those times where you can write, your word count will be unstoppable.
If you find something that works, stick to it and develop it further. No one wants to hear you talk about how you don’t have time to write or how your writer’s block is in the way. You can’t sell those excuses, so put them aside, pick up a good habit and work it.
So, how do you find time to write?
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© 2018 Connor Sansby
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Connor Sansby is a Margate-based writer, editor, poet and publisher through his super-indie Whisky & Beards publishing label.