There is so much information out there about how to find time to write. I find it rather discouraging.
It’s extremely fashionable currently to get up 5 am. No thank you.
I am NOT a morning person.
Like, at all. I get up at 7.00, and even that took a bit of work.
They say (fuck off ‘they’, amirite?) that one is at one’s most creative first thing in the morning, but I. Am. Not.
I’m one of those people that’s as happy as a clam doing bog all. I like to waste time doing things like puzzles, napping and of course, staring blankly at a screen (omg Queer Eye, though it’s sooooo good).
I do not allow myself to do nothing. No. Because I want to be a published writer someday.
So what do I do? I get up extra early to do all my Twitter, YouTube and Instagram scrolling from 7 til 8 every morning, and then I for a run. Then I get a shower and go to work.
This is on such autopilot that I don’t even really think about it. Seriously. Before I’ve even had a single conscious thought in the morning I’ve made coffee, blended my pre-prepared smoothie, filled the bird feeder and opened Twitter.
The thing is, my brain doesn’t do anything exciting or different before noon. It can manage to make coffee and to feed the fat-ass wood pigeons. It can also handle Twitter and Bloglovin’, because reading is easy for me.
Even running, though not easy, can be managed. It’s just fast walking, let’s be honest, and I’ve been walking for nigh-on 30 years. I’m not fast, I stop to take breaks and I’m redder than Ruby Woo but I can do it. The most taxing part is squooshing into my sports bra.
NB. Squooshing is actually a word. No angry red underline or anything. Who knew?
So when do I actually write?
After tea, at the kitchen table from around 7-8ish. I try to stick to Chuck Wendig’s 350-word, 5 days a week plan, but if it doesn’t quite work out like that (like if I have a busy day at work on Saturday or know I won’t be arsed) I’ll rearrange a bit. Basically, I try to do 10 pages a week. That’s not a huge amount, but it’s what i can write. Read Chuck’s post on this subject – it’s sooo good
I’ve had plans before.
Plans to knock out 10,000 words a week etc., plans to write short stories to ‘ease myself in’ (to what, I have no idea). And then it hit me.
No one actually gives a shit.
No one’s waiting for your novel. Maybe your friends are interested, or possibly your mum. But this only really affects you. Write, don’t write, what’s the difference?
But if you want to be some fancy pants author with a published book, you need to carve out that time.
I appreciate that it’s easy for me to say that – I only work 35ish hours a week and have no kids, but there are only so many times you can keep saying you ‘don’t have time’ to write your novel before people slap you. No one magically has spare time. You have to make it.
That doesn’t mean that I bounce downstairs every morning and thrash out 5000 words before breakfast. The only distractions I have when I’m writing are the sounds of my boyfriend’s PS4, which is actually quite inspiring if I’m writing battle scenes.
Which is never actually, because I’ve never been in a battle and I don’t like loud noises so it’s all a bit vague and scary. Anyway.
Writing’s hard a lot of the time. In an ideal world, we’d all work like James Patterson – hiring a load of writers to do the grunt work whilst we do all the fun world-building, plot twisty parts and shout at people for incorrectly realising our vision.
I actually do have a few tips about finding the time to write, which I suppose is why you’re here.
1 – Stick to a schedule.
Decide beforehand what constitutes a decent excuse not to write. Personally, I only break my writing schedule if I’m ill or if I’ve finished the chapter for a week. Sometimes I’ll allow myself a night off if I’m really tired, but I ensure I make up the words the following evening.
I also schedule in running, yoga, mealtimes, even showers sometimes, so I know exactly where I’m supposed to be.
2 – Schedule in time off.
I don’t usually write on my ‘regular job’ days off, Sunday and Monday. I reserve them for dog walking, naps and reading. Saturdays evenings are for prosecco and Netflix use a bullet journal to schedule my day, but I don’t decorate it much or anything – it’s basically just a scrappy handwritten diary that I use to organise my life and write notes in, whether it be a to-do list, a shopping list, blog notes or novel notes.
I know it sounds illogical to ‘waste’ your days off, but I find that cramming my exercise and writing around my normal job gives me more structure to the week. I end up wasting less time endlessly scrolling through Pinterest. Pinterest is now my Sunday morning thing. I can really enjoy my spare without that niggling ‘I should be writing’ feeling gnawing away.
3 – Be realistic
I schedule in an hour a day for writing (more for blog posts). That may seem like a lot to some, but not enough to others. It works for me though. Writing for an hour a day, five days a week is a hell of a lot more than I used to do, which involved writing 10,000 words one week and then forgetting to ever write again.
Also, you will be ill. You will sit there and have no idea what to write. You’ll be unexpectedly called upon to go out for drinks with friends (or, more likely in my case, your mum). Write extra tomorrow. Or next week.
Or, even better, write at 3am when you roll in steaming. You can practice that whole ‘write drunk, edit sober’ thing. Let me know how it goes.
There are no magical answers.
You just have to turn up for five hours a week. Even 2 and a half hours a week. You could get a draft turned out in a year or so.
Stick the kids in front of Paw Patrol (don’t make me pick between Sky and Rubble, I won’t do it), offload them onto their other parent/your sibling/your parents/the dog.
Sit them around the table with you and let them draw or write or cover themselves in glitter (I would seriously try Paw Patrol first).
It’s one of those things that is both extremely easy and extremely difficult. Once you have that hour or so carved out, stick to it.
If you miss a night, stay up later.
Sneak your manuscript into work and do it there.
Prioritise it as you would any other meeting.
See? Really easy but also devilishly hard.
If you do have any magical answers, do be a sweetheart and leave a comment down below. We’d all appreciate it.
Also, James Patterson, if you’re reading this (big if, I know) approx. how much does it cost to hire a boatload of writers to write your book? Do you have to feed them? Do they fight? Asking for a friend.