Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Find the Write Time

I have found myself caught up in one of the most common issues for writers. When in the world am I going to find time to write? I have a full-time-40-hour-per-week job (because writing does not pay the bills just yet), and I am a full-time student who attends class in a face-to-face fashion. Between homework, jobwork, research papers, reading assignments, and exams there just isn't a lot of time left to devote to writing. Or is there? I stumbled across a blog article by Jessica Strawser, editor for Writer's Digest, commenting on this very subject entitled How to find, Rather Than Make, Writing Time. She points out that even writers need some time to just sit and do something that has nothing to do with being productive at all. Sometimes we just need to take 30 minutes and watch a tv show or take a hot, relaxing bath. (Actually, the bath could qualify as a productive activity in my opinion since you can take a book in there with you, and books are tools for writers.) We shouldn't have to completely give up the things we enjoy doing. Perhaps we should just reduce the amount of time we spend on nonproductive activities rather than cutting them out altogether. I always feel guilty when I do something else when I need to get some writing done. I constantly think, "I need to be writing!" Sometimes these thoughts infringe on my "me" time or family time. Honestly, there is no need to feel guilty about enjoying life. Life is too short to let great moments pass us by.

So, what does this mean? How do I find the time to write? We are told over and over by other people (experts and non-experts) to make time to write. Well, why not figure out what time we aren't using? There are no rules for this kind of thing. No one says you have to sit down and keep your rear in the seat for no less than an hour. Some writers do set goals of so many words in one sitting or so many words per day. These goals are great for those writers who have that set amount of time to sit and write. As I said, there are no rules. We really need to do whatever works best for us. When I am at work, I have about an hour for my lunch break. I will often bring my lunch to work so that I can 1.) save money and 2.) get some writing/reading done. I can hide out in the break room or even stay at my desk and just close the door and work away while I eat. I also think that this method is good for those of us under a time crunch becuase it helps keep us from force writing. The last thing I want is for someone to read my work and be able to feel how much I struggled to write it. Breaking up the process can often lead to new ideas as well as give time to reflect on what you have written.

So, maybe we can all take notice of free time for writing that we didn't realize we had before. I do most of my writing on weekends and on my lunch breaks, and I always carry a small notebook around with me in case I find myself in a situation where I can jot down a few lines (waiting room, standing in line, etc.). When do you find your time to write?

Photo by Photl
Copyright (c) Emily D. Wood


  1. Emily, I needed to read this today. Seriously. I am finding it hard, as usual, to find time to write because of school work and the house remodel. There's never enough time in one day, so I agree that we should take advantage of every moment to write at least a little something. Great post! :)

  2. Been there. Done that. Played Mr. Mom at the time too. It's not easy.

    Here's my two cents and my two rules, for what it's worth:

    My first rule: Words per day mean nothing to me if they're not words I want to keep. (I know, that flies in the face of what most say, but it's how I'm wired.)

    My second rule: Writing is more than typing. Writing is also plotting, conjuring, world-building, and a hundred other things that don't require physical contact with pens, pencils or keyboards. I'm not necessarily typing at home in front of the PC when I'm plotting so it doesn't matter where I am. I still consider it "writing" since I'm still "working" on the story.

    Don't beat yourself up. Don't stress. (Stress strangles the muse.) Write when you can and during those times when you can't, craft it in your mind. It'll make your time actually writing more productive.

    1. What a great point! Thank you for sharing. You are exactly right about there being much more to writing than the physical act of putting words on the page.