Finding time to write is a universal writer problem. You are not alone. This post of is for those of you that have decided to commit to writing more. You’ve set a goal, now how are you going to accomplish that? I’m here to help you with a couple of ideas. If you’re as dedicated as I think you are, I know you can do this.
Make a list of all the things you do in a day. Imagine that your time is money. Because in reality, it’s valuable.
Once you’ve got the list, write down how much time goes into it.
(All of you list-makers will hate this, but I promise it helps!)
Think of this as making a budget for your money. If you don’t tell your money where to go, it will vanish from your bank account. The same is true for your time.
Once you figure out where your time is going, you can figure out how to redirect it.
Now, I know that’s going to be hard. Especially if you’re a parent.
There are mouths to feed, a spouse to please, endless amounts of dirty laundry and dishes, driving to and from sports practice, picking your kids up from school, paying the bills, picking up medications… Oh yes, you’ve got to sleep sometimes, too, right?
Take your list of budgeted time and order it in level of priority.
What can you cut?
If your time is truly valuable to you, I know you’ll find something that’s sucking a hole in your time just like you’d find something that’s burning a hole in your wallet.
Now that you have your list of budgeted priorities, let’s rearrange things a bit. Because we’ve got to find open space to write.
Chances are, you’ll have to change your lifestyle a little bit. Don’t let that scare you. You’re committed to doing this, remember?
It will take 3-5 days for your body to adjust to a new schedule. And it’ll take 21 days for you to form a habit. (Maybe a little longer.)
Remember, this is about the long term investment in your writing career.
Okay, now it’s time to get down to business.
Even if you only have 15 minutes of budgeted writing time, I want you to try and write in the same place and at the same time every day.
The human brain is incredible. Did you know that environmental triggers can train your brain to crave a drug? (Check out that link. It’s pretty interesting.)
Environmental triggers can also train your brain to say, “Hey, it’s time to write.”
By picking the same time and place every day, you’re training your brain to associate those environmental triggers (stimuli) with something that you find rewarding. In this case, that’s writing. (Most days, that’s pretty rewarding!)
If you’re serious about it, after 3 days of this change in your routine, your body will start making physical adjustments.
Try it. You’ll see what I mean.
You’re going to have days when the writing is hard. Really hard. Like “I want to punch this blank screen in the face” hard.
Remember why you made this goal in the first place.
Make yourself write one sentence. And don’t delete it. You can delete it tomorrow, but don’t delete it today.
The longest stretch I’ve suffered the one sentence routine is five days.
Usually, that only happens because I’m tired.
Then, suddenly, I recover, and all the words I hadn’t been able to find rush out of me faster than my finger can type.
Don’t wait until you feel that rush to write. Stick to your writing time, even if only seven words come out for the day.
If you waited until you felt like working out to go to the gym, then you’d never get fitter. The same is true for writing.
Once you’ve got your priorities budgeted, it’s time to find your writing community. Don’t try to do this alone.
Maybe you’re writing more with a friend, and you’re keeping each other accountable.
Maybe you’re starting a critique group.
Maybe you’re a part of Twitter conversations (the #wattpad4 on Monday evenings is a good one).
Maybe you’re brainstorming with others in a Facebook group.
However you decide to plug into the community is irrelevant. What matters is that you do. We need each other.
I’m curious, what are some things you decided to cut from your priorities to make time for writing?
Tweet me @sydney_writer if you need an accountability buddy. I’ve got daily word counts all the time, and there are great people that stick with me. Remember, one word a day is better than none.
You could do one word a day every day before you roll out of bed.
This is possible.
And you’re going to make it happen.