You’ve got to go to work, pay bills, run errands, clean the house, and the kids need to be feed today. But it’s been awhile since you paid attention to your writing.
Ain’t no one got time for that.
Well, you kinda do but not the time you think you do. One of the biggest complaints I hear from other writers is about having the time to write. Phrases like, I wish I had time to do this or that. Or, I wish I had more time to work on this chapter or that scene. Time. It’s something we all want more of but can’t get. Fortunately, there’s some tricks that can help find some time when the calendar says no but your Muse says it’s now or never.
Residencies, fellowships, and art colonies.
This one is the best options for the working person because it is simply time that you are forced to work on your writing. Depending on the residency, it could be anywhere from a weekend to a couple of weeks to a couple of months, depending.
The upside? This is time and space you’ve been wanting and asking for. The downside? If you’re a working person, this is also your vacation time. It’ll be up to you to decide how you want to spend you time — vacation or not — with this option. Going away, however, is sometimes what you need to get things done.
Update: Worked out a deal where my readers will get a discount for a webinar on how to apply to a writing residency. Check out the post on Aug. 19. Here’s more about the webinar.
Day writing/ Night writing
By far, this is the easiest to implement…in theory. This strategy suggests to either get up early or go to bed later to make more time for writing. I’ve tried them both and they have their advantages.
Day writing advantage: The writing is fresh and you’re using your brain at its best for something you really care about.
Day writing disadvantage: Sometimes you get so into it, you’ll lose track of time and you can be late for work. Also, I like to get as much sleep as possible. If you’re not a morning person, this is hard.
Night writing advantage: There’s more time to get “lost” in the writing when the house is at its quietest.
Night writing disadvantage: Sleep. Some people have to work in the morning, you know.
Which ever you chose, be sure you stick with it to create a writing habit. It’s a way to trick the brain to get ready for a task. For example, if you chose a night time writing session, the brain will start getting ready around 10 pm for your session because it knows it’s time to produce art. Going back and forth for both, however, is harder than you would think.
Scheduling the weekend
For some writers, it’s easier to write in bursts. I have a friend who wrote their entire novel over a series of weekends. They would save their two days off a week to work on their writing.
Saturday could be a day to create and Sunday could be an editing day. This option would require structure because it would be easy to get off track. It is the weekend after all. For example, you could start writing at 9 am with a break at 10 a.m. and another at 11 a.m. An hour lunch at around 12:15 or 12:30, with perhaps an hour of reading in the afternoon or a quick walk to get the blood pumping. By 5 p.m., you could be done with pages printed and ready to be edited or revised the next day.
You’d be surprised at how quickly you’d be able to knock out a writing project over a couple of weekends.
Taking it bit by bit
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Yes, that’s an old saying but it’s also true.
Breaking down your writing project whether it’s a book or a memoir or a book of poetry, will help you schedule your limited writing time better. For example, when writing a book you have to 1) research the idea 2) plot it out before you can start writing 3.) outline the book 4) maybe even do a character sketch or a goal, motivation, conflict chart. Giving yourself some time to research in hour or half hour bursts over a couple of weeks or plotting the story over a couple of days, helps to organize the time and the project. You’ll also be able to know where you are at in the process at any given time.
So, if you have 10 minutes while waiting in line to pick up the kids, take a pad and pencil with you and get some plotting done. If you’re waiting in the doctor’s office to be called in, grab your phone and do a Google search on your topic. Waiting for the car to be serviced? Jot down a quick outline. You’ll be amazed how much these little bit of time add up.
Icess Fernandez Rojas is a writer, blogger, teacher, and journalist. Her commentary has appeared in The Guardian and on Huffington Post Latino Voices. Her fiction has been published in literary journals/anthologies such as Minvera Rising and Soul’s Road. Her first book, the beginning of the Jennie Manning series, will come out next year. In addition to writing, Icess teaches fiction writing classes. Want more on what it takes to be a writer? Sign up or contact her and ask a question.