Expert Round-Up Topic: How do you carve out time for writing?
I would say that schedules don’t really work without goals, especially when you’re introducing a new routine. The objective may be word count, an outline, or editing. Regardless of the purpose of your scheduled writing session, be sure to stay on track. Some drafting software enables you to establish daily word count targets to keep you on track. If you’re new to writing, producing even 500 words may seem like a daunting task, so approach it as you would an exercise routine: start slowly and gradually increase your output. Even professional authors have not always been able to produce 2,000 words per day. You will find a method that works for you, just as you discovered your preferred management and executive style.
Have clearly defined and manageable objectives. My recommendation is to begin writing in short bursts. Every day, you must compose. And begin by writing in brief intervals. For instance, write for 10 to 15 minutes before taking a 5-minute break. If 25 minutes works better for you, then use that duration. In these writing sprints, however, set a timer to ensure that you will only write and not go online, check your phone, or check your email during that period. When the majority of us begin writing projects, we are excited. We want to write that story or publish that nonfiction book, so we write a large number of words every day. However, by the time most authors reach the messy middle of the book, they are not writing ten to twenty pages per day. Instead of being disappointed that you did not achieve your goals, set attainable ones. It is essential to pace yourself. If you only have fifteen minutes to write during your lunch break or after the children have gone to bed, that’s fantastic. You’d be surprised at how many words you can produce in fifteen minutes of intensive writing.
Swap relaxation time for writing time. If you have taken a close look at your busy schedule and still can’t see how you can fit in a writing session, I believe that something needs to change. Writing often requires sacrifice, meaning that you must sacrifice some leisure time for writing time. This could be writing on your lunch break or before you get at work. Most likely, you will find the time you need to dedicate to writing during your leisure time. Instead of watching that program, spend thirty minutes writing. Instead of looking around social media on your phone, put it down and focus on your writing assignment. Everyone has some habits that aren’t necessarily beneficial to their creativity. The challenge is to replace negative habits with positive ones. The distinction between a novice and a professional lies in their habits. An amateur has amateur tendencies. The behaviors of a professional are professional.
As a working dad of three, it’s really hard to find time to write. Like many people with full-time jobs, I have to carve out time early in the mornings, late at night, or on my lunch break. Making a schedule and sticking to it is important. Often that means I’m awake when everyone else in the house is asleep—which actually works better for my concentration.
I’ve found that I have to do the research first, and separate that from the act of writing. Finding sources, taking notes, and organizing everything in the right order takes time, but it makes my writing process go so much more smoothly. Once I have the background laid out, putting words on the page is fairly simple. But if I try to combine research and writing at the same time, piece by piece, then it all slows down and the entire process takes twice as long.
Dictate while in motion. I believe that computer use is not necessary for creative writing. Some authors believe that they do their finest thinking while driving or riding the train to work. They feel that dictation is a terrific approach to strengthen their writing skills and capture their ideas. There are numerous methods for dictating a fictional or nonfiction book. You can utilize simple voice recording applications or speech-to-text technologies such as Dragon or Speechnotes. Google Docs, Windows 10, and Mac PCs all provide dictation capabilities.
Use anything around you as material for your writing: I was in the garden with my son, playing with chalks, and I chalked a full story arc over the slabs. He didn’t mind because the words served as a racetrack as well. Remember to photograph or write down your creations before they vanish.
Wake up an hour early:
This is conventional advice, and it is inconvenient. When I was only getting four hours of sleep a night due to my job and my poor sleep habits, the idea of rising up earlier than necessary felt barbaric. However, you grow accustomed to it. It’s good to start the day with something that’s all about you; plus, after you get beyond the mind-numbing exhaustion (!), it turns into a productive hour that gets you ready for the rest of the day.
Twenty-two years ago when I wrote and released my debut book The Venus Chronicles, a spoof on the book Men Are From Mars, Women From Venus. I worked a full-time job, was an active Air Force reservist, and dealing with a husband with several chronic health issues that frequently required hospitalization and after care. I used to get up around 5:00 a.m., would write for about an hour or so, then shower and got ready for work at 8:00. I also frequently wrote an hour after dinner.
Frequently, I have problems sleeping or waking up at night. This was and still is waking up around 3:30 or 4:00. Instead of tossing and turning, I would get up and write for an hour and return to bed for another hour or so. I also wrote for several hours on Sat, leaving Sun free to spend with my family. Today, retired from two successful careers, I am a full-time writer and owner of a small writing service. I get up about 8, have breakfast and go to my home office and write for several hours. As a subcontractor for a publishing company, I will copyedit a client’s manuscript, and share my review. A freelance writer, I typically have articles or columns that I am working on and submitting.
If you like this blog post, you’ll love our Author Toolkit on writing nonfiction books. It includes checklists, templates, worksheets and more. Check it out!