Saturday, May 31, 2014

Making Time to Write

One of the questions that established writers get asked repeatedly is "How do you find time to write?" Between day jobs, familial obligations, errands, and social commitments, it's easy to let your schedule get in the way of your writing time. Obstacles and challenges will pop up when they are least expected. It's important to have a system in place to deal with this adversity.

It seems like there is always something else that needs to be done when I sit down to write. I have a to-do list, a job, a family, and friends that all need my attention. However, writing is both a passion and a part-time job for me and I need to devote time to it. Everyone has a different system for making time to write. Here are a few of my top tips for making time to write.

Add your current project to your daily to-do list, with a defined goal. When you just list "writing" on your list, you don't have an objective way to cross it off. On the other hand, if you list "write two articles" or "write 1000 words on my WIP (work in progress)" then you know what you have to do.

Make a date with yourself. Open your appointment book or online calendar and take a look at your weekly schedule. Find a few blocks of time during the week that you can set aside to devote to writing - try for once a day if you can! Then write down your plans on your calendar. Treat that appointment the same way you would a date with a friend. Show up on time and ready for action.

Set your alarm clock one hour earlier. This idea is rarely appealing to writers, but once they try it for a few weeks many find that they have incredibly productive writing sessions and avoid distractions from their friends and family. Begin by waking up 15 minutes early and devote that much time to your writing project before work. That's not so bad, right? Each week, set your alarm back another fifteen minutes. In less than a month, you will have worked your way up to an extra hour of early morning writing time.

Invariably, things will come up during your writing time. The phone will ring, the kids will ask for a snack, you will remember you haven't vacuumed, or someone will arrive at the front door. It's important to learn to identify procrastination from actual needs. Do you really need to vacuum right now, or can it wait for an hour until you are done? If possible, turn off the ringer of your phone during your writing time!

Emergencies will happen. What is important is that you get back to the business of writing once you have taken care of the obstacles. If you have to miss your writing appointment one day, get back on track the next. Don't let a day become a week or a month.

It is a difficult process to become a professional writer. Don't let time get in your way!

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