It almost seems a bit hypocritical for me to write a post about finding the time to write as I’ve had difficulty with that task myself since starting work. But maybe more than anything, that’s a reason for me to make this post.
I like to think that writers write because they have to, not because they want to. That those who write have a world inside them, and the only way for it to escape is for the words to bleed out. And maybe the words won’t come at the moment, maybe you’re having some difficulty, maybe your story isn’t quite ready to come out of hiding. Or maybe you just can’t seem to find the time.
You have probably heard this before. Probably time and time again. But without a doubt, the most important way to find the time to write is to develop a routine. Pick a time and set it aside. Get up an hour early, or swap your watching TV time for your writing. All it takes is an hour a day (or even half that). Sit down and write, at that time, every day.
If you’re like me and you work shifts, then routine isn’t something that you’re familiar with so trying to force yourself into one is a lot harder. Especially when next week’s shifts completely throws you out of whack. My suggestion for this is to make a routine around your potential shifts. Pick a time in the morning and a time in the evening to be your two designated writing time spots. The slot you end up writing in, depends on your shift. But either way you have a dedicated time.
Work Around Another Task
If you’re still in school this might be particularly useful. When you have that time dedicated to homework/coursework, reward yourself with half an hour or an hour of writing. You’re already in the ‘headspace’ for working, so there’s no better a time to keep your focus. After dedicating your time to something else, it might be a relief to come to your story. Use writing as your reward.
Or on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Sometimes writing is a hobby, but sometimes it’s a chore. Especially if you’re having difficulty finding the time to focus on it. Set yourself a goal. It could be 1 hour of straight writing or it might be a word count target such as 1000 words. As soon as you hit your target, reward yourself. The new episode of your favourite TV show. Watch it. That book you’ve been itching to read. Read it. That cake that’s been begging you to eat it. Eat it. Whatever the reward give it to yourself for a fantastic day of writing.
Create a Writing Space
Make yourself a physical space to write. A physical space to write would do a lot of good, psychologically speaking we associate a location with an activity. It’s why it’s advised not to watch TV in your bedroom or do work in your bedroom. Having a space dedicated to a task can help a lot, you’ll learn that when you’re in that area, the only thing you should be doing is writing. While a room dedicated to working and writing would be ideal, this isn’t possible for everyone. Try and find space anyway. Maybe there’s a corner in your bedroom where you can set up a desk, or a way you can arrange things so that you know ‘this is my writing space’ and when you set it up ‘this is my writing time’.
The thing is, finding the time to write isn’t as easy as any of this suggests. But it is possible. It helps to write every day but you don’t have to. If you can only manage 100 words a day, during your lunch break at work, well either way, every day, you are one step closer to your goal. With the invention of smart phones and tablets (and even notebooks!) you have the ability to write at any time and in any place. Steal a few moments here and there, or sit yourself down for an hour. It doesn’t matter how you go about it, you’re still finding the time whether you’re stealing it from somewhere else or not.