With everything going on in our hectic lives, it can seem nearly impossible to find time to write. We run around in the morning, spend the 9–5 sitting at a desk, and then have commitments in the evening to deal with.
Getting writing done can seem nearly impossible. I, for one, need a good chunk of time to sit with my writing if I want to get something readable out of the session. Others somehow steal minutes throughout the day. The key is that you have to create time to write rather than wait for the perfect condition.
It is possible to find time to write. Even in a busy day, there are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of. Especially for individuals trying to balance a full time job and life with their writing, these strategies can help you get your writing done.
Wake up earlier
This has always been my go-to since my most productive writing happens in the morning. It’s a quiet time with minimal distractions for me. I give myself an extra hour in the morning to get my work done. It’s not always pleasant, but I can knock off a good amount of an article (if not the whole thing), complete a few chapters of editing, or write a chapter. I always feel better heading off to work knowing that I’ve completed something I love.
Some people still have smoke breaks, so why don’t you make writing breaks? I use the stand reminders from my watch to signal my breaks. I use the time to go to the bathroom, get some water, and type out a few words or a few ideas out of my head. Sometimes I’ll collect it in a Google Doc but other times I’ll just write it on my phone. Skip the water cooler chat and add to your word count.
And we all have a good break in the middle of our day — lunch. If you’re not using the whole time to eat, you should be writing. It’s a perfect chance to catch up on your word count. Take advantage of the time and write.
Take advantage of your commute
I drive an hour every morning and every afternoon for work. That’s two hours of writing time that goes to “waste” if I don’t take advantage of it. Because I’m driving, I’ve learned to use that time for thinking. I haven’t gotten the hang of voice notes for my writing, but I can develop scenes in my head while I drive and then write them out in the first few minutes when I get to work or when I get home.
If you don’t have to drive, get a writing app on your phone, tablet, or just use the notes feature. I’ve written thousands of words on my phone. It takes some getting used to, but eventually it becomes fun when people start asking what you’re doing and you can reply “I’m writing a book”.
On my drive home, I use that time to catch up on my social hour. Because I need my evenings dedicated to writing and catching up on my health or making food, I use this chunk of time to call my mom. When I get home, I’m ready to sit in my chair and get work done.
Sweat while you write
Health is obviously important and should be a priority. But sometimes that’s a good amount of time that you can’t be writing. Why not combine the two?
My first year of NaNoWriMo, I used my lunch and workout time to sit on the bike and write while I worked out. I would do bike sprints or distance and type away on my phone. I wrote an enormous chunk of that novel on my phone while I was working out. It was a win in all aspects of my life!
If you want to write, you’re going to have to say no to some after-work and weekend events. It’s difficult to say no, especially if friends and family don’t understand why you’re writing when you don’t have a strict deadline. I have to constantly explain why I choose not to participate in activities. I don’t have a publisher or strict contract deadline for my novels — everything is self-imposed — so when I say I have to write, people don’t always understand. But it’s important to me, and while I do participate when I can, writing is a priority that often comes first.
At the end of the day, if you want to be a writer you’re going to make the time to write. It may be harsh, but if you took writing seriously, you’d be searching for every moment you could just to get the words out. Know that it is possible — I wrote three novels while working and going to grad school full time. Stay focused on your ultimate goal (writing a book, creating a platform, starting a business, etc) and you’ll find that you choose to make the time for writing.
If you need writing advice, help with productivity, or a structure for balancing your creative life, I offer coaching sessions to help you continue cultivating your passion for writing. You can also get great resources in a once-monthly digest by signing up for my newsletter.