If you’re a writer, at some time in your career you undoubtedly wondered, “How can I possibly make the time to write this book?” Since most writers I know hold another job to support their writing and have busy family lives, they find it difficult to find the energy and time to put words on paper (or, more likely, type words into a computer).
Typically, I hear about three main obstacles:
Inclination. You’re tired. You don’t know what to write. Your other obligations pull you away. When you’re not inspired to write, it’s hard to sit down and make it happen.
Set aside just 15 minutes a day to move forward with your writing (perhaps as soon as you get up, on your lunch hour, an hour before you normally go to be). Put it on your calendar and try to do it every day. Often, you’ll find if you just commit those 15 minutes, it expands into more time, and you make good progress every week. Plus, writing every day—even a little—keeps the momentum going, and helps your writing flow more easily.
Blocked. You sit in front of your keyboard and think. No ideas come to you. You consider this direction or that direction, but nothing feels right. You just can’t get the words down.
Just start writing. Simply do a stream-of-consciousness mind dump. Start with anything that’s in your mind and let it flow out on paper or into your computer. Don’t worry about what it says, you can always delete the weedy “chaff” later. After a while, you’ll find your mind drifting toward what you want to write and tasty “wheat” ideas will pop forth. This always works for me.
Priority. You think, “I should write, but I’m tired… or, I need to do laundry… or, I have something more important to do.”
Make a “spiritual” decision to make your writing an absolute priority. We all know, if something is important enough to us, we will make time for it, no matter what. So, you need to look inside yourself and find what is most important. If that actually is your book, you will get up earlier, watch one less TV show, find someone else to do a chore you dislike, or find other means to make time for writing.
My strongest suggestion is to schedule a specific time for writing, even if it’s only 15 minutes a day. Treat it like an unbreakable appointment. By considering my book as one of my clients, setting aside time every day to work on it, I was able to finish the final fourth of my first novel (Rhythms & Muse) in six months. And I’d been working on it for almost a decade already!
No excuses, writers. Which of the solutions above will you start using today to overcome your writing obstacles? What other techniques have been successful for you?
Ann….thanks for writing this blog post! Ever since I had my son, I have been finding it difficult to get time to write. It is usually a choice between staying up and writing or getting some sleep after a long day. But, this motivated me and had me think about other times in my day.
Yay, Cynde. I remember those days with infants and how your time just got sucked away. The secret really is making writing a priority, even if you’re tired…just 15 minutes can make a huge difference in moving forward. I know you can do it!