HOW DO YOU FIND TIME TO WRITE?

HOW DO YOU FIND TIME TO WRITE?

We all live busy lives. Every single one of us. With the amount of distraction out there, it seems there’s even less time than ever to devote to a craft you love. People have classes, families, work, and every bit of life commitment towering above their time to write.

Last night, at a Halloween party, me and a few friends were discussing this very issue. My ten-year-old son was running around jump-scaring people. My eyes and ears were tuned to him, even as our group chatted. That’s testament to how much information processes through my head at any moment. And my situation is less extreme than many other people.

“How do you find the time to write all those stories and novels?” That’s a question I get often, as I’m seen as rather prolific.

The very first thing to realize is that you have to want to tell your story or stories. If you’re not passionate about them, no one else will be, either.

Which leads into my own method. It’s been years since I’ve had the luxury of prolonged writing sessions. I’m lucky to get an hour occasionally.

But . . . don’t writers live by the ocean in a big house, overlooking the sea, and sit behind big wooden desks with their only worry being their brilliant creations?

If only. Very few authors get to that level. That’s some sort of myth that’s somehow crept into the collective consciousness. The other big myth that’s out there is that one day: “. . . I’m going to finally get time to retire and become a writer, and all the money and acclaim will come to me when the world reads my stuff.”

Well, like the man sings: “ . . . if dreams came true, wouldn’t that be nice!”

Back to reality. Or at least my reality.

I’ve figured out my best, most fruitful time is the morning, right after I wake up. Your brain may work differently. But this works for me.

Before I get out of bed, before I do a damn thing, I write. I grab my iPhone and open Google Docs, which is free. Very often I’m transcribing a dream. If it’s not a dream, then it may be a song I heard in my head, and sometimes even story fragments. If none of those have manifested, then I will continue on a writing project I’ve already started. It could be a short story, or a novel, or what have you.

The important thing is to get words down. I don’t worry much about punctuation. I can fix that when I’m exhausted. Same with formatting. Although the thing I love about Google Docs on the iPhone is the way it scales the text to the screen size. It actually looks good. There are other programs, but none of them look as elegant to me. Again, the choice is yours. I like that it syncs right then and there. I don’t have to worry about data loss. I can pick up later on my iMac or my Chromebook and it’s all there.

ASIDE: I always, always check my stuff in MS Word on a real computer before sending it out. I’ve been burned when simply exporting to a DOC from every other word processing program and not at least doing a check. The most common thing that happens to me is that when track changes gets used, all the deleted stuff ends up back in the document, making it quite a mess.

Here’s the important part. I use my built-in timer. Within about ten minutes or so nature calls. That seems kind of gross writing it out here, but it’s a signal that the day is about to begin. Everything switches. People hear you’re up. Your pets know you’re up. The business of living begins and pulls you out of that comfortable zone of creation.

And if nothing else, you’ve gotten something down that day. That’s how I always feel. If the day starts, and there’s fire after fire to put out, I’ve gotten something done that advances my writing.

And it can sure add up fast. In novel writing mode, I can get out 500 words or so in ten minutes. That’s a chapter every two and a half days. An entire draft in two months. Not bad. It’s amazing how much you look forward to your time once you start. While you’re busy during the day, your thoughts are working. The story unfolds. You even sometimes write in your head before you can even get back to putting it down. Then it goes quicker, and you’re very productive.

This method can also spill into other times. Say you take 15 minutes of your hour long lunch break and do the same. Or 15 minutes at the end of the night. Whatever works out, works out.

It’s my hope this helps some folks find the inspiration to follow their hearts and find even the smallest bit of time to write their stories. Happy writing. If you use this, please comment here and let me know. I’d love to hear the story about how you wrote your story!

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2 thoughts on “HOW DO YOU FIND TIME TO WRITE?

  1. This is great, John. Thank you. I don’t have kids, but it’s still often difficult, for me at least, to find time to write. Real time, anyway, as in, an hour or more at a stretch. So it’s nice to know you’re having success this way.

    I wrote six novels in 15-minute bursts when I worked in the art department at a print shop where I could escape into the darkroom and no one would interrupt me. You didn’t want to open that door and risk ruining a bunch of expensive film, so as long as I was in there with the door closed people thought I was working on a business project, rather than working on my laptop. It was perfect, and I miss it terribly.

    I still work for the same company but technology has driven us past the point of needing a darkroom, and while I’m fortunate enough to work for a boss who encourages and facilitates my writing by giving me my own personal writing space to use on break periods, it’s just a cubicle located in the front office, which often resembles a call center and is not the same as the quiet, private space I enjoyed with the darkroom.

    The most consistent piece of writing advice I’ve seen over the years has been some variation of, “If you want to be a writer you must do two things: read a lot and write a lot.” I had difficulty finding time to do both of those things in the evenings, but I always noticed the more I read, the more I wrote. Recently I’ve been listening to audiobooks at work, where I spend my day feeding a printing press, which allows me to listen for 6-8 hours a day. I still read bound books at home, of course, but purely as a means for driving my writing, I’ve found listening to audiobooks (an easier accomplishment in these days of iPods and smartphones) helps a great deal.

    Thanks for sharing John!

    Jason

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    • Right? I know. But I do think there are things we can do to make it work in our insane schedules. A little goes a long way, you know? Keep writing! You’ve done some great work, m’man!

      Like

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