So you’ve decided to be a writer. With great articles in mind and an awesome idea for a nonfiction book, there’s nothing stopping you from making it to the top.
You’ve created a schedule for your writing: Sundays to Thursdays, at a specific time and at a specific place. Great! Now, get started.
But Sunday comes and goes without any writing. Then Monday. Then Tuesday. Before you know it, it’s Sunday again and you’ve barely gotten a sentence on paper (or screen).
“Wait! What happened?” you wonder. “Is the week done already? Ok, let’s try this again.”
And so you do, with the same result. And it goes on and on like this. You’re sure you could create some great content, but as a busy man (or woman), you just don’t have the time.
With an 8-to-4 job, children to pick up from daycare/school, a husband/wife to take care of, and a new episode of Breaking Bad to watch, how is it even possible?
Well, don’t give up just yet. All writers are faced with this million-dollar question at some point in time. Here’s the answer: The time is there. You just have to train yourself to find it.
Here’s the busy-man’s guide for finding time to write.
Something’s Gotta Give
You already have a full day, and a full week, that’s packed with a job that pays the bills, a family, and maybe some extra activities like classes or exercise. Since you can’t add more hours to the day, take a look at how you spend them.
What can you sacrifice that’s outside of those constants?
The most common answer for this is to rise and write. Sacrifice some sleep, wake up earlier and get an hour of writing done before the day starts.
Not a morning person? Then go to sleep an hour later.
I know you’re supposed to get eight hours of sleep, but I’m sure not even a doctor gets that amount, and he’s the one who recommended it.
There might be other things you can sacrifice as well.
Accustom to hanging out every Friday evening with the buddies? It’s time to tell them you’re a busy man now.
Just have to see what happens next on Breaking Bad? Catch the rerun, or watch it online.
If you’re having trouble finding time to write, then take a step back and see what’s really sucking up all that time and sacrifice the less important things.
Write Through Anything
Making sacrifices is great to get a huge chunk of writing done, but sometimes you need an extra half-hour to really drive your daily quota home. Where to find it?
At this point, it’s important to master the art of writing through anything.
Think about how often you hustled to pick up the kids, or to get to that appointment on time, only to end up waiting for 30 minutes or more.
While you’re waiting, you could have actually been writing. After all, you’re a busy man now. You don’t have time to sit around being idle.
If you learn how to take advantage of these moments, then you may get that extra time you need.
To accomplish this, your writing has to go mobile. Don’t think you need a table, a cup of coffee, and peace on earth to write.
At any point in time, you should be able to whip out that bad boy of a laptop, tablet or even your smartphone and add a couple of lines to your manuscript.
So write while you’re at the doctor’s office. Write while you’re waiting at the airport. Heck, write while you’re talking to your mother-in-law. Just write.
Brainstorm During Activities
Some days are so busy that you can’t even get five minutes to yourself. You had to rush the kids out the house, drive them to their practice sessions, then head back home to do a gazillion chores, then go get the kids again.
It’s almost as if you just got out of bed and the sun’s already going down along with your energy. But while most of the things you did took a lot of physical energy, the brainpower used was at a minimum.
Most of us drive without even realizing it. And are you really thinking about mowing the lawn while you’re mowing the lawn?
You can use these activities to brainstorm and work out the loop-holes in your plot, or work out the details in your article.
Just remember to check in with reality every couple of minutes. You don’t want to accidentally mow down your wife’s flowerbed.
Brainstorming or not, ideas can strike anytime, anywhere. And the messed up thing about the great ones is that they are so damn slippery. I can’t tell you how many great ideas I’ve forgotten, not because I lost count but because I can’t remember. But I know they were great.
That’s why it’s important to always have your writing tools at hand: a pen and paper (or phone)
Can’t spear the time to write them down? Then record your voice.
So when it’s time to write, you don’t have to waste time being creative because all the ideas are already waiting to jump out.
And speaking of wasting time…
Stop Wasting Time on Social Media
It says something about the world when there’s an entire section in this post dedicated to the subject of social media, but in the 21st century, online is the new social. This is great for writers as it’s much easier to make your mark. However, every minute spent online is a minute you could have been writing (I know I’ve spent way more than I should). Twitter, Facebook, email, they all suck up time and your life.
As a busy man, you don’t have time to waste like this. So do yourself a favour and give it a break when you write.
Really addicted? Try one of those programs that block websites for a specific amount of time.
The 33 Minute Rule
Instead of looking for more time, be more productive in the allotted time you have.
A genius names Schwartz developed a method that is now called the 33 minute rule. You know that strange fact about running your horse to death? Turns out you can also run your brain to death (not literally, of course).
Cutting your writing time to 33 minute segments is a good way to ensure that you don’t kill your brain for the night. And because your mind knows you’re working with 33 minutes, you’re going to be more productive as you focus on getting as much done in that time as possible.
When the times up, take a 10 minute break, stretch your legs, check your email, then go again.
I’m guessing some people can go longer than 33 minutes, and that’s fine, but 33 minutes works for me.
So what do you think of the busy-man’s guide for finding time to write? Let me know in the comments.
About the Author
Jevon Knights is a fantasy writer and blogger from Trinidad and Tobago. His blog, Knights World, describes how anyone can be a writer and gives tips for all those who are interested, along with short stories, and excerpts from his books.