Writing Advice Series: Making Time.

photoIn my time, I’ve read a lot of different advice about making the time for writing, or creative endeavours. A lot of the time, it seems that people say things like ‘I wish I had the time’ or ‘I need to find the time’. This kind of thinking is basically about fitting in writing around all the other things that happen in life. For some things, this is unavoidable, especially if you have a full time job and have children, or have a lot of other things that seem to take up your free time. The last Writing Advice post I wrote, about Goal Setting, touched upon this conundrum. If you’re a freelance writer, you also have to make time for writing – because there are millions of other things to do – like social networking, emailing people, pitching articles, editing articles, running errands, networking, etc. It all adds up.

You might find this truth a harsh one to swallow – but it’s not about finding the time, its about making the time. If you’re serious about this writing thing, if its something you’ve always wanted, then you have to make the time. Everything else has to be fitted in around the writing time, no matter how important those other things are to you. I often feel guilt at not doing certain other things when I make the time to write, and part of me wonders if this is something to do with being a woman and the illusion that doing other things will make your life better (eg. housework), rather than writing. Other people may make you feel guilty – but this is your time to write. There are lots of ways to make time for writing. You can have a few blocks of ten minutes throughout the day if you’re a busy Mum, for example. Or an hour whilst the baby is sleeping. I’m not a Mum, so I’m not qualified to say how you’ll feel – you might rather have a nap instead – but if you really want to, you can choose to use a bit of your time for writing.

If you’re a freelancer, it can be hard to find the right balance when you’re juggling all these other things. Last month, I made myself a schedule, writing down all the things that I want to make time for – blogging, fiction writing, editing and writing for Deaf Unity, social media connection, reading, doing some research, spending time with friends and family, wedding planning, going for walks and free time. All of these things, at first glance, seem like too much – but there are roughly twelve hours in a day and I figured out that if I want these things, then I’m going to have to make a schedule that works for me.

Not a schedule that means I’m shattered at the end of the day and can barely eat my dinner, but a schedule where I feel energised, inspired and as though I’m making headway with all the things I want from life. Last month was a kind of trial month, and I discovered what worked and what didn’t work for me. For example, I discovered that I’m definitely not an early morning person (who would have thought?). I work better with more alertness between the hours of 10 and 6pm each day. If I get up too early, I find myself flagging by 3pm, and I want to avoid that because if this thing is to work, I need to still be awake at that time. My partner and the rest of the family get home around 6pm-7pm, so I like to have that time to catch up with them and relax.

A schedule – making time for writing – is essential if you’re going to write. No matter what responsibilities you have in your life, its good to make that time for yourself, to write and create something. If you have a full time job, for example, you could get up half an hour earlier (I know…) or write something before you go to bed. Or even write during your lunch break. Make the time. You’ll find that once you start making the time, things will slot into place, and you’ll feel inspired.

Another part of this is also recognising that you should go easy on yourself too. Some days are going to be better than others. For example, some days you’ll be on a roll, and on others you just sit there staring at a blank page or screen. It doesn’t matter. You know you’ve got that time for writing – its your time for writing. Don’t give up just because some days you won’t write more than 200 or 300 words. At least you’ve written something, and over time, it all adds up. Keep a notebook and pen with you or make notes on your phone so whenever you experience something interesting or see something or have an idea – you can quickly make a note of it. This is part of writing too. You make the time, and you start to form habits that inform your writing. Writing is work and playtime rolled into one.

You don’t find time to write. You make time. It’s my job. ~ Nora Roberts.

Cross posted from Fate is Chance. Destiny is Choice.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. I hate when I hear people say that they have to achieve a certain word count every day and getting disappointed when they don’t. While there is a lot to be said for goals, I’m with you, I think you have to give yourself allowances for those slower writing days!

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    1. Liz Ward says:

      Yep – people tend to feel guilty if they don’t achieve their set word count. But writing is writing, no matter how much you do each day! Some days are definitely harder than others.

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  2. Heather says:

    Just wanted to mention how I handle this as someone with a full-time job. I’ve made a commitment (described here: http://aboutwhatmatters.wordpress.com/2013/09/29/a-nap-on-my-own-personal-sabbath/) to write every Sunday, without exception. Since I made this commitment, I’ve been successful in doing so. I also write at some of the times you mentioned, lunch hour, evening, etc. as I’m inspired. This is working well for me so far. I don’t require from myself any particular word count or time commitment, but my goal is to complete at least one essay each Sunday. This isn’t a hard and fast thing, but so far I’ve been able to do that, and often two.

    Wrt morning pages, I understand why they can be helpful, the value of doing them longhand, etc. I think though that at this point in my life, having done the therapy thing in a couple different decades of my adult life, meditating twice daily, etc., I feel like I don’t need it. I think it’s a tool to be used on an as-needed basis, when things aren’t flowing, and can be really helpful if there’s a lot of ‘gunk’ clogging up the works. But it’s not like you can’t be creative without doing them 😉

    Best of luck to you, Liz, and to all other writers out there 🙂

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    1. Liz Ward says:

      I agree about morning pages/journalling. I think they can be helpful but they can also stop people from doing the ‘real’ writing. If a balance is struck – great – but like you say, it’s also great to just get on and write, morning pages are more like a therapeutic tool. I find I don’t always need to journal, it doesn’t always help and takes up time. Good luck to you too! 🙂

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