The days are long; the years are short. Or so the saying goes. So how do you make time for writing? “I don’t have enough time.” is something most writers have declared at one point. You imagine that you’ll write that novel, publish that article, start that blog. But then one day you look up and realize it’s been a year (or two) and somehow you haven’t got around to it.
Making time for writing is hard—especially when it doesn’t pay and you have a job, a family, commitments. But it’s not impossible. Enough writers have proved that. Making time to write is a choice. And it’s a choice you can make. If you want to.
Thankfully, making time for writing is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you write, the more you’re inspired to write and the more you discover to write about. Start small; start with low expectations. Literally write whatever words you can put together. Then come back to it again the next day and write some more.
If making the time to write is a choice, how do you jump that initial hurdle? How do you nudge in a little space for that healing, life-giving, soul-expressing work?
Acknowledge the call.
Do you love to write? Does putting words down on a page give you joy, bring you to life, enable you to express what’s inside in a way that nothing else can? Call yourself a writer. Let go of the aspiring. You’re a writer and writers need time to write.
Embrace the margins.
There will always be times where life is legitimately busy and you can’t just set aside an hour or two to write. This is when you embrace writing in those stolen moments of time.
- First thing in the morning
- Before you go to bed
- On your commute
- During lunch break
- During naps
- In waiting rooms
- While dinner is in the oven
Discover what time of day works for you (I’m a definite night owl) and go with it. A paragraph here, 100 words there—when those weeks pass you’ll look back and realize you’ve written a series of blog posts, a collection of essays, an entire novel.
Set up accountability.
Sometimes we just need that push to stick with it. We need someone on the other end of the line with the reminder text, “Did you write those 500 words?” Find a way to build accountability into your routine.
- Pair up with a writer friend
- Join a writing group
- Take a writing class
- Sign up for a workshop
Are you a procrastinator? Yeah, me too. Do you get distracted by all the interesting things in the world? Ditto. Counteract this by setting goals for yourself. Create a bigger goal and then outline the steps you need to get there. I start with a monthly goal so it doesn’t become too daunting and then detail the weekly tasks I need to complete. This practice also gives you a better sense of how those years can slip by if you let them. When you come to the end of each week and you haven’t completed the tasks, you’ll be reminded of all those days you pushed things off to the next. It might just be the nudge you need to make today the day you sit down and write. Set a goal that inspires you and work back to create a schedule.
- Publish a piece in a magazine
- Create a blogging plan (trello editorial)
- Set a timeline for book chapters
However you make time for writing, remember that it doesn’t have to be a burden, but it sometimes might feel like work. But if writing is important to you, it will be worth it. Both the process and the prize.
How do you make time for writing? Looking for a guide to get you writing? Check out our free course The Creative Nonfiction Primer. In 7 lessons you’ll go through 5 different categories of creative nonfiction and get prompts to write your own.