‘I don’t have the time,’ is the number one thing people tell me when they say they would like to write. I can understand this and have been there myself. Or at least I thought I didn’t have the time. In reality, I just wasn’t organising my time that wisely. When I was a kid, writing was my number one priority. If I could have chosen one thing to do, above any other, it was writing. It meant more to me than just about anything else. When I was a kid, I imagined that when I grew up I would have all the time in the world to write to my heart’s content, but this is not what happened. It fizzled out when I went to University. At the time I told myself this was because I now had to study. But of course I wasn’t just studying! I was going out most nights, drinking and having fun, and then laying in the next day sleeping. There was plenty of time to write, I just didn’t look at it that way. The same thing applied when I had my first three children and worked from home as a childminder. Of course there was no time for writing! There wasn’t even enough time for reading! But if I look back now, I can see that there was time. I just chose to use that time sprawled out in front of the TV. When my third child went to school the itch to write again came back with a vengeance, and three years on from then, despite another baby, I have managed to hang onto it and have published three novels through an independent publisher. Here are my top tips on finding the time to write!!
1) Ditch the TV. I’m serious. You don’t need it! If there is a choice between reading and watching TV then choose reading for your leisure time. Reading helps you become a better writer. TV does not. I don’t watch hardly any TV any more. There are usually two or three programmes a week that I will watch, and that is it. No soaps, no reality TV, no wasting my time. If I still watched all the junk I used to watch, I would have zero time for my writing.
2) Get up early and go to bed late. Okay, within reason! Obviously if you have a family and/or another job, then you need a decent night’s sleep. But why lie in when you could be writing? Sneak down and get some done before everyone wakes up! Get up earlier than you have to and write before you go to work. No doubt the stories will buzz through you all day at work and by the time you come home you will be desperate to get back at it. As soon as the kids are in bed, or you are home from work, then write.
3) Stop making excuses. I used to do this all the time. I don’t have the time. I’m too tired. I can’t concentrate. There is no point. Believe me, I used to say all these things and I believed them too. Not any more. I do have the time if I use my time wisely and prioritize the writing. Don’t put it off and think tomorrow will give you more time, or more energy because it won’t. Tomorrow will be the same as today and you will use the same excuses if you let yourself. Break out of this mindset and accept that although you don’t have much time, you do have time.
4) Sneak writing into all parts of your life. Tap notes into your phone or your tablet when you are waiting, walking, or on a journey. Any time you are alone and can get away with writing, then write. Even if it is short notes, or lists of things you want to tackle, or brief disjointed ideas, or loose lost words. It doesn’t matter. It’s still writing, and you will be surprised how many sneaky bits you can do throughout the day if the mood takes you. These snatched moments will spur you on. They will feed the passion. They will lead you back to that story when there is more time later! You will become hooked again.
5) Remember how it used to make you feel. Remember when writing was who you are and what you did. Remember when the stories filled your head all of the time, especially when you should have been concentrating on other things. The trouble is, adult life came along and convinced you that time is short and should be spent on more productive things. Not so. Don’t let it. Life is short and before you know it weeks, months and years have dragged you away from the last sentence you wrote. Go back to that sentence. Go back to that time. Go back to that you. Remember how it felt and what it meant to you and how exciting and breathtaking it really was. Find your inner child again and let them show you the way. I did, and I have not looked back since.