© 2010 Katherine Swarts
For all who are serious about becoming authors, but despair of ever being able to fit writing time into their schedules.
One thing that separates true writers from wannabes is that wannabes spend almost no time actually writing, but plenty of time talking about their writing dreams. And a good deal of that talk is about “when I find time to write”:
“That would make a good book—I’ll write it all down if I ever find time.”
“I’ve got a great idea for a novel—I’ll write it as soon as I find time.”
“I could be the next John Grisham, if I could just find time to write.”
Most such people never do find time—because they keep hoping for weeks or months of empty hours waiting to be filled. Nothing else happening. No other responsibilities. No interruptions.
No such thing.
Real writers don’t waste time waiting to find time. They make definite plans to write during the time they have.
1. Make up your mind first. Repeat until it sinks in, “I am a writer, and writers make time to write.” Firmly believing this also helps you deal with people who consider their interruptions more important than your “hobby.”
2. Don’t feel you must write a whole book—or even a chapter—at every sitting. Think of writing as a marathon rather than a sprint. A page a day, six days a week, equals a three-hundred-page manuscript within a year—and still allows you Sundays and holidays off.
3. Be prepared to make sacrifices. If you’re typical, you’ll be working around a full-time job, family responsibilities, and other interests or hobbies. As the first step in planning your writing schedule, list all the things you do regularly. Then decide which of these you absolutely cannot give up—such as family time, church, or your garden. The remaining items—evening television, computer games, sleeping late on weekends—are things you can “trade” for writing time. Be ruthless; many things you “can’t live without” are actually, on second look, expendable.
Once you’ve decided what you can give up, remove all temptations to go back to it. Take drastic measures where necessary: cancel a club membership; delete all games from your computer; lock the TV room and give your spouse the only key.
4. Literally write writing time into your schedule. Once it’s in your daily planner, it’s hard to excuse neglecting it.
Plan on writing for at least fifteen minutes a day, five or six days a week. Try for the same time slot every day, preferably one when your mind is at its clearest—before work if you’re a morning person, before supper or bed if you function best in the evening.
5. If you’re desperate for writing time, get up half an hour earlier (if you’re a morning person), or go to bed half an hour later (if you’re a night person). No more than half an hour at first. If you show no symptoms of sleep deprivation after a month, and you still want to write more, you can consider extending your “extra” waking time to an hour. Know when to stop, though. Trying to live on four hours of nightly sleep will come back to haunt you.
6. Stick with your new writing schedule, no matter how hard it seems at first. After a month it’ll be a habit, and continuing will be little trouble.
But while continuing may soon be easy, getting started may pose a problem unrelated to time. What do you do if you genuinely want to write, are willing to make time to write—but can't think of anything to write about? The next article will explore that question.