How to Make Time to Write

I didn’t plan to attend Allison Tait’s Make Time to Write session when I was at the Sutherland Writer’s Unleashed Festival in August. I figured I knew all I needed to know about that subject. I manage to make time to write despite five part-time jobs (which somehow always add up to more than one full-time job!), a child too ill to go to school (whose Year 11 work I teach) and all the other commitments and emotional traumas that come with being a carer, mother and a partner. I even blogged about making time to write eight years ago!

But I attended another session by Al, another time, another place, and it was brilliant. So I didn’t want to miss out in case she said something brilliant again. And surprise, surprise (do I ever learn?), it was the right decision.

A big take away for me was no matter how much you know about how to make time to write, it’s always enormously motivating to have someone repeat it and challenge you to do better. It’s a call to action because the truth is, while most of us do know how to make time, we don’t actively do it in any directed or organised way.

Here’s what I learned. A lot of it is common sense, but the thing about common sense is sometimes we have to be hit over the head with it, often. Right? I know I do.

1 What’s stopping you? Work out what’s getting in the way of your writing. What are you being overly ‘busy’ about? If you’re still think there’s no time in the day, get up earlier or stay up later. Use the time you have, not the time you wish you had.

A few months ago when life was particularly tough and I was struggling to find any time to write, I made a list of everything I did every day for two weeks. And I found a massive chunk of time.  I started grocery shopping on-line and saved myself four-and-a-quarter hours a week. Physical shopping means every item you purchase is handled six time (off shelf into trolley, out of trolley to scan, back in trolley, into car, out of car, into pantry). On-line shopping – straight from your door to your pantry. As a systems analyst I’ve conducted many time and motion studies but missed a major efficiency right under my nose!

2 What are you waiting for?

There is no perfect time. You have to start now. Right where you are. If you don’t start you won’t write. Nobody ever wrote a book by talking about it. There is no perfect place. It’s not the place that makes the writing goo. It’s the writing that makes the place good.

3 It’s a cumulative process

You have to start accumulating. Little bits add up. Break down your word count. Try to write 500 words per day. If you can’t do that, write less but have a consistent minimum. I’ve got a soft spot for statistics and write every day statistics are  some of the good guys. Write 500 words a day – that’s 182, 500. (For a middle grade fiction author like me, that’s 4 books!) Write 300 words per day – that’s 109,500. Even 150 words a day adds up to 54,750.

So what are we waiting for?

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