Time. That elusive substance we all need more of (even as we waste it on browsing funny cat pictures). Unless you're a full-time writer, I bet you struggle to find time to write besides having a day job, a family, or both.
So how do we squeeze in consistent, quality writing time?
If They Can Do It…
Stephen King wrote Carrie while he was still teaching English to high school students. He would go home at night and place his notepad on a board on his lap, because there was no room for a desk in their mobile home.
William Golding was one up on King, and wrote Lord of the Flies while his students were quietly completing the assignments that he would give them to do.
Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind, wrote while she cleaned her house. Apparently, she kept a notebook under her apron and would scribble between chores.
John Grisham was still a busy lawyer in a law firm before his second book, The Firm, became a blockbuster and allowed him to turn to full-time writing. He would arrive at his law office at five in the morning, six days a week, and work on his writing.
… So Can You
These stories can inspire even the busiest of people. They teach us one thing:
When you make writing a priority, nothing can stop you from doing it.
Don't underestimate this first and critical step, though. You must make a sacred pact with yourself: "I am a writer, and I will find the time to write."
Repeat that mantra to yourself every day. Do it even if it feels foolish. Speaking out the words gives them power, gives you the power to act on them.
Getting in the right mindset is only the first step, though. Here are some others:
Break it Up
Let's look at the numbers.
- If you find the time to write only 250 words every day (the average well-spaced page), you will complete the first draft of a full-length novel in only one year. Let that sink in. How many years have you been dreaming about writing a novel? Stop dreaming, and start writing that daily page.
- If you manage to write 500 words every day (two pages), you'll complete that first draft in six months, and still have six months to edit it.
In other words, small numbers add up. Writing a book is a marathon, and the most important thing to remember is that every step counts. Every step, every word you write takes you closer to your target.
Don't underestimate the power of small numbers.
Also, don't choose a daily word count that would tax or discourage you. Keep it mild and manageable, and concentrate on hitting your daily target.
Find Time to Write Everywhere
You can't know when you'll stumble upon 5 minutes of free time. It could be during lunch at the office, while waiting for an appointment, or while stuck in the bathroom.
Use these 5 minutes to write. Keep a notebook with you at all times, and forgo that round of Homescapes or Facebook in favor of jotting down a good sentence.
Your sprouts of spontaneous writing will encourage creativity and prime your mind for writing. When you sit down for a full writing session, they'll supply a springboard into your work.
Make Use of Either End of the Day
Are you a morning person? Wake up half an hour earlier than you're used to, and use that time to write. Night person? Put off your bedtime for another 30 minutes, and use that time to write.
(Long-lunch person? No problem. Write as you eat.)
Defend Your Writing Time Like a Lion
When you find some time to write, use it for writing. Turn off the internet, turn off your phone, turn off your family and work and tiredness, and write. Always remember:
Every word you get out on the page is a little victory. That's what writers do.
And if you manage to do it, too, then you are a true writer.