Sep 05 2017

How to make more time to write (and why it’s probably not a time problem you have)

I hear that phrase so much, writers: make time. As if we can possibly manufacture more time than there actually is in a day, week, month, or year.

Or can we?

My suggestion to you, if you’ve ever complained that you can’t make time to write in your busy life, is to re-frame the problem.

My guess is, it isn’t always a time problem you have…

1) You might have a schedule problem. Take a look at your schedule over the last week. Is there any way to rearrange things to create a space for some quality writing time? Of course not many of us can alter our work schedules at will; but maybe you could go to the gym before work and free up the 5-6 PM slot for journaling, or eat your lunch while churning out the first draft of the poem that’s been bouncing around in your head for days. Reworking your schedule to create openings during the time(s) of day you feel most creative and focused, even once or twice a week, could yield major word-count results.

2) You might have a productivity problem. Think about other areas of your life—kids, family, work, volunteering, hobbies, maintenance of household/property/vehicle, and so on. Do you have procrastination, time management, or organization issues in those realms? If so, then becoming the master of your workload might just open up some opportunities for writing time you didn’t know you already have.

3) You might have an inspiration problem. If you haven’t yet landed on the novel concept, poem idea, or essay topic that really lights a fire under you, then you aren’t experiencing the feeling of being driven to the page or screen. When you are truly inspired, it’s amazing the time you can “find” to put down some words. So get inspired! Visit a new city, take a walk in the woods, read a bestseller, or take a writing course.

4) You might have a martyr problem. This one is as close to a time problem as you can get, because if you have a martyr complex, you might actually NOT have time to write—because you’re so busy saying yes to all the other people and opportunities that you aren’t saying yes to yourself and your ambitions as a writer. “No” can be a life-saving word to learn. If you really want to write, is there some other obligation that you could give up? In other words, what are you currently doing that you don’t enjoy as much as you would writing? Let it go, and write instead.

5) You might have an energy problem. Regular sleep, exercise, and engagement with meaningful activities is rejuvenating. If you aren’t getting those things, then the time you spend exhausted on the couch at the end of the day—time that actually could be spent writing, if you could keep your eyes open and your mind clear—might seem like non-negotiable down time. Find a way to re-energize and you could transform that down time into up time with a pen.

Tough love time: if you want to be a writer, you have to write. The only difference between writers and non-writers comes down to actual butt-in-chair, pen-in-hand, lost-in-thought hours logged. Think about your time commitments, work habits, and lifestyle and consider rearranging some things to make not time, but space for writing in your life.

And if you’ve already done so, please share with us in the comments below how you “make time” to write when it seems like there is none!

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Comments on ... How to make more time to write (and why it’s probably not a time problem you have)

  1. Carla Pineda says:

    I find that when I “take” the time to write everything else just goes better. It may just be 5-10 minutes in my journal but the benefits are huge. And, when I do the little short spurts, the longer, “butt in the chair” sittings come much easier. It’s myself giving me permission and re-membering that this is self-care and necessary and valuable.