By far, the most common response I hear from people when they find out I’ve written a novel, and am in the process of writing several more, is: “Where do you find the time? I’d love to write, but I just don’t have the time!”
Because I wrote my first novel while working three jobs and attending university full time, you can imagine how trying I find this response.
#1. Don’t ‘find’ time. MAKE time: If you really want to write, don’t sit around wishing you had time to write. MAKE the time to write. This was one of the biggest barriers for me to break down. I had all these great ideas, some fully formed, some barely articulated. But they were just sitting around in a few different Word Documents, just waiting for ‘someday.’ And then one afternoon, as I was scribbling away, I realized how much I really enjoy writing. How complete, and happy I feel when I’m writing. And a logical progression from that thought, was ‘why on earth do I not spend more of my time writing?’ And so I endeavoured to make more time in my schedule to write.
As with any habit, repetition is the key. I began by setting myself a REALISTIC daily goal. I began with a half hour of writing a day. When I became accustomed to half an hour, I bumped it up to 45 minutes, and then eventually to an hour. On the weekends, I can sometimes spend up to four hours a day writing. Once I’m finished university in April, I hope to be able to devote even more time to writing! Start small, and work your way up. Above all – be consistent. Write daily.
#2. Measure success by time, not word count: I find that a lot of authors measure how successful their day of writing has been by their word count. This idea is also compounded by events like NaNoWriMo, which stresses the importance of a daily word count goal. While quantity is important, people who are just starting to get into the habit of writing daily, should opt for a ‘time goal’, instead of a word count goal. I will repeat my advice from above: Set yourself a realistic time goal – and if you find you can do even more than that, bump it up!
#3. Mix it up: Depending on the day, at about the 45 minute mark, I find myself getting antsy. So antsy and unfocused that I feel as though I’m five years old again and being made to sit through something unbearably boring. The second I start feeling like a wriggle worm, I make myself get up and away from writing space. That might mean making a fresh cup of tea, playing with my dog for a few minutes, or even doing a few household tasks.
It is a waste of time to try and continue to work if you’re not focused. ALWAYS quality over quantity. I also like the physicality of getting away from my writing space. I usually don’t need a break of more than 10 minutes, before I can come back, refreshed and refocused.
Thoughts? Do you have other ways to manage your time for writing?
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