Finding Time to Write

In one of my very first posts on this blog, I wrote about eliminating your excuses to not write. If you have something you want to write about, you should be writing. No one is going to tell your story for you. (Okay, you actually can pay a ghost writer to tell your story for you, but you still ought to be an active part of the process.). When I tell people I’m a novelist, I still hear people respond with “I’d like to write a book someday.” I ask them why not now, and they say they can’t find the time to.

I call BS on that.

People will make time to do the things they truly want to do. And unless you are truly writing or a living (like a technical writer or a Journalist), then writing will not be a natural part of your daily routine. Only full-time writers can write when they want, but they have to because it’s their job. You have to make time to write, just as you make time to binge watch TV shows or make time to rant on social media. There are plenty of ways to eke out time to get your ideas out, you just have to be committed enough to do it. Here are a few techniques I utilize.

Wake up an hour early or go to bed an hour later

Sometimes making time to write means
literally making time. If your story is worth the hours of lost
sleep, then those moments are perfect fodder for writing. Heck, for
some, the creative juices flow best right before bedtime or right
when they wake up anyway.

Write during your lunchbreak or downtime if you can

I admit I’ve snuck pieces of scrap paper onto the floor when I worked at factories. When the machines are down I’d jot a few quick notes down before picking up my broom to clean the area (Not something I recommend, though). Mostly if I had a long enough lunch break, I’d write ideas down then.

Jot down notes

This is something every writer should do. You should always keep a means of recording ideas handy at all time, whether it be a pen and some scratch paper, a note taking app on your phone, a notebook you carry around, or whatever. Inspiration can strike any time and anywhere under any circumstance, and when it happens you need to write it down, and yes, even jotting down notes counts as writing.

Vocal recorders

If you don’t have access to pen and scrap paper, or like me you find thumb-typing ideas onto the note app on your phone to be too tedious, you can always turn on your vocal recorder and dictate your ideas onto your phone. I personally haven’t tried this because I just like the feeling of writing or typing my ideas out better and it allows me more freedom to better organize my thoughts. But if it works for you, then go for it.

Email yourself

A good way to record ideas is to send
them to yourself via email. You can write as much as you want, and
they will always be in a place where you can retrieve them. I’ve done
this plenty of time. In fact, I’ve backed up entire manuscript drafts
be emailing them to myself. I actually trust that more than The
Cloud.

Write instead of doing something else in your leisure time

Instead of watching the game, or going out partying, or hanging with the crew, or playing video games, or watching cat videos on YouTube, how about taking a half hour to write about what’s on your mind? You would be surprised at how must time you spend a day on mindless entertainment. That time can be spent writing. Or you can even multitask. Keep your laptop or tablet handy and type while you’re watching TV, or in between gaming sessions.

Write when you don’t feel like writing

This is a big one. Oftentimes you just don’t feel creative. It could be fatigue from the daily grind, or you’ve been through something particularly discouraging. The thing is, this is a perfect time to vent out your feelings of despair or frustration or fatigue. You can pour those negative feelings onto the paper, and into your stories. My negative feelings about my life at the time were the genesis of my book The Hand You’re Dealt. The emotions you get as my characters struggle with their careers and relationships are very, very real and were things that I was dealing with when I concocted the story.

Write when something major happens to get the feeling and reactions while they are fresh in your mind.

Likewise, when literally anything of importance happens in your life, that is a perfect opportunity to record it and put it into a story. Take note not only of what happened and why, but how everyone reacted to it, and how it made you feel personally, and even speculation what comes next. This is a great exercise to help develop your skill as a writer, and may provide material fr future stories.

Like I said, if you really wanted to do it, you’d find a way. For writers, the ideas and revelations will churn inside us, nag at us constantly, and pretty much drive us insane if we don’t get them out of our heads and onto some recordable form. It’s an unexplainable thing that drives us. If you have that type of creative passion, you get everything I’m saying. If you don’t, then you won’t. But you can generate that passion by taking the time, even making the time, to cultivate that germ of an idea you’ve got until it consumes you like our ideas consume us. Even something as simple as writing a sentence a day counts. And there’s no better time to get started than RIGHT NOW.

So what are you waiting for?

Storyteller and published author of 4 novels.