Making Time to Write

making time to write

I get asked about how I make time to write a lot. In fact, let me list what I actually have going on in my life right now:

  • I have two retail jobs (that’s 40+ hours a fortnight)
  • I coach writers
  • I edit
  • I write stories
  • I go to the gym
  • I catch up with friends
  • I sleep, eat, repeat
  • I’m doing a masters degree

Ok putting that out there doesn’t seem like much but when you factor in travel time, being an introvert who needs alone, while studying, reading for uni, writing for uni, writing for pleasure, editing for work, coaching for work, reading for pleasure, sleeping, having down time, whew I’m tired already writing this all out.

I have a bit of a full plate going here and with careful scheduling (which, let’s be a bit real here, is actually terrifying to me because structure…-shudder-) it can all be made. And that’s what I’m learning.

Writing is something that I have learned to do on command. Give me a sentence, a laptop and I’ll write for you. I’m a bit like Pavlov’s dog when it comes to writing, but I trained myself to be able to do that and I work better with ten minute intervals and I can piggy back these until I feel like my fingers and wrists want to detach themselves from me run away from me.

It’s nearly happened. I’ve had to run wrists under cold water, wiggling fingers until I can get feeling back into them, done yoga for the wrist and had to step away from my keyboard.

But that works for me.

Let’s get down to business, hey?

I only have a few tips because a lot of making time to write is about your willpower and your ability to want to write. So, here we go. 

Sit down and write for 5 minutes.

Set a timer for five minutes and get rid of all distractions and write. I’m good at getting a good 200+ words out when I do this and it’s the easiest for me to do because I always find that I end up writing for longer and more.

When I’m at my most resistant, this is a trick I pull out because five minutes is a song and a half, or at least that’s how I rationalise it and I find my favourite song and I sit down and write. The song finishes and a new one starts and by that time I’m deep in it and ready for more. Ready to keep going and really make something of my time.

It’s also the number one thing that I tell all of my clients. Five minutes is nothing in your day. It’s the adbreak between your favourite TV program it’s waiting for your pasta to finish boiling, it’s that moment just as soon as your kid goes down for a nap.

We overcomplicate making time by making excuses.

Stop it.

This is your smack down for excuses. If you have a sentence that stars with but…get the hell away from this post, you don’t want help, you want someone to rationalise your excuses and validate them.

Sorry, I’m not about to do that.


Get out of your normal writing environment

Seriously, it’s as simple as that, I’m sure I’ve even mentioned that this is a tool for getting rid of your pesky writing block that you have thought into existence.

Get yourself away from your desk, sit on your couch, lie on the floor with a pillow under you and write, go and hide under the covers on your bed. Even go for a cheek soy chai latte at a café and take your laptop with you.

Do whatever you need to get out of your current working space. There’s stale space around you and it makes it harder for you. You want to be free for your five minutes of writing.

Schedule it

You knew this one was coming.

Seriously, schedule it, preferably just before you’re about to go out. Because you’ll have no excuses to sit down and write because you can’t stay longer than your allocated time.

Unconsciously this always happens to me. I end up accidentally writing when I need to leave to go to work or go and meet a friend. Writing likes to do that to me sometimes, well always.

You have the ability to write, you have the fucking time. If I can find the time, you can find time. Look at your week, find out when you have free time, schedule it. And before I get slack about not having kids and their unpredictability: I get it. While I don’t have kids I do understand it’s hard, but you are using your child as an excuse. Most go down for a nap, take the small respite and write. You can do it.

Let me know how you go in the comments below, I’d love to see what you have to say.

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Mandi is a writer, reader, dreamer and is breaking procrastinating inner editors, one at a time.

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