The world is an overwhelming and chaotic place lately. How can you be expected to deal with everything on your plate and still find time to write? It’s tempting to blame recent events for our lack of personal time and ability to manage it. But if we are honest with ourselves, we would recall how often we complained about the same problem before any of these things hit us.
What were our excuses then?
It’s important to recognize this so we can take stock and own our part in the problem. (You’ll notice I will say “our” and “we” a lot because I’m totally guilty of this too). We are trained early on how to prioritize our daily life. We have our to-do lists and we have our obligations. We have our must-do tasks that always take priority. This is what responsible adults do.
But as writers, we are special. We know this and try to be sneaky. We cherish our hobby and we know we can find writing time at some point. So, we grind at work all day and we wait until the perfect time to sit down with our beloved writing and embrace it… But that precious time never comes.
We all have the same twenty-four hours each day on planet Earth, but we all spend them differently. What we prioritize will always come first. If we are disappointed with what was forced to come last, we aren’t being true to ourselves. We might need a mindset shift. So, Amy, how do we fix it? I’m glad you asked.
1) Gift Yourself the Time to Write
Do you remember getting birthday cards in the mail? As adults, we think of any card, money-stuffed or not, as a sweet thought of remembrance. But as kids, we shook that card to see what fell out, and we felt special because we were gifted something we didn’t have to earn.
Think of your writing time as birthday money. You deserve it even if you didn’t earn it. This is especially important for freelance writers. You deserve to do the fun writing too! They say “time is money” because—like money—time is finite. Once we spend it, it’s gone. How will you budget your writing time?
2) STOP Multitasking
*Raises Hand* I am so bad at this. Seriously, I’m awful at not multitasking. This is because doing a lot at once can alleviate the overwhelm that gets us stuck in a procrastination loop. Anyone stuck at home with new responsibilities can attest that attempts to keep up have you doing three things at once. But if nothing is prioritized, everything suffers.
Do yourself a solid and figure out when in the day you’re busiest. Block off that time and deem it only for work and chores. Don’t plan your writing during the busiest time of day; that’s self-sabotage. Now, pull out that daily planner again and find the empty, wasted parts of the day. You’ll figure out how you can fit your writing in if you think of it as setting an appointment that you can’t schedule anything else during.
3) Do What You Gotta Do
I am sooo not a morning person. I groan at people who tell me I can find time to write if I just wake up at 5 AM. But hey, I won’t knock it because it actually works for some people. Try writing at different times to find the part of the day when you’re most creatively productive.
You may write better at night before bed or perhaps you get in a few paragraphs during your midnight snack. If you wake up at 5 AM and write for 25 minutes and want to go back to sleep, heck, who am I to judge? Same goes for 10 PM, 3 PM, or 2 AM. I say, do what you have to do to get that writing done for the day.
4) Reframe What it Means to Write
Remember, this is your writing time, so you call the shots. It’s not about hitting a word count or even tracking a set number of hours; this is about opening the door and letting writing back into your life to stay. Use courses like DIYMFA101 which breaks down the act of writing into manageable steps.
First, let go of the guilt that comes from spending your time writing and yearn for it hungrily like a kid with a piece of cake. Once the excitement is there, then you can work out the logistics of what “writing time” really means or will accomplish.
Writing time doesn’t have to result in pounding out 2,000 words in one sitting. Here are some ideas for alternative writing activities you can do during your writing time to still be productive:
- Stream-of-Consciousness (Jot down notes on your thoughts so it counts as writing!)
- Journaling (Get out the angst that is stopping you from writing.)
- Sketching (Try visualizing a character or scene.)
- Outlining (To help with plotting ideas when stuck.)
- Writing Exercises (Try prompts and sprints to practice skills.)
- Listing (Try bullet points for all scenes or characters.)
- Tape-recording (Great for potential dialogue to write down later.)
- Exploration (Anything else you haven’t tried before!)
5) Take Your Writing Seriously.
You may just throw away all of this advice if finding time to write isn’t really a priority for you. (If that’s the case, I’m surprised you read this far.) But, that’s fine. Just remember that anything in your life you don’t take seriously will never become a priority.
It might be tempting to save our resting time for doing creative work, but we risk finding that we just don’t ever feel like it. Taking writing seriously means planning and sticking to your writing time commitments. If you are a serious writer, you will find the time. Now, go get serious and reclaim your writing life. Good luck!
Amy Ayres is the Tech Fairy at DIYMFA. When she is not in her office writing about terraformed planets, multiple personalities, and Irish folklore, she is hanging with her awesome tech-hubby, stepson, and RubyCat. Visit amymarieayres.com where you can find out more about her private writer’s group Fill the Blank Page. You can sign up for her Newsletter where she sends out motivational tips for new writers and her special brand of humor. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.