How to Make Time for Writing Your Book
Bijgewerkt op: 21 sep.
Making time to write can be tough: we all lead busy lives. But, with some honest self-reflection and dedication, it is possible to make time to write. Below, I present to you a case study (myself).
I’ve loved to write for as long as I can remember. However, over time, I picked it up many times, only to let it drop after weeks or months.
No finished book. Not even a completed first draft.
Then after even more months, I would start writing again—from scratch because I didn’t like what I wrote before. This would repeat itself in an endless cycle.
As soon as life got too busy, I stopped writing.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Why can’t you make time?
What changed? How do I motivate myself to write almost every day of the week, and where do I find the time?
Step one: think about why you can’t make time. Have you ever felt like you wanted to write, but didn’t?
Think back: what were your excuses not to write? While these excuses seem valid, they’re often not. It comes down to anxiety.
When something is important to you, like writing, your mind will come up with excuses to stop you. Because it can sense it’s important, which means it gives you stress and anxiety. Your mind is trying to protect you from future harm. It likes to take the path of the least resistance.
Anxiety will come, and it will try to see you fail. The best thing we can do to counter it is to be prepared and try to recognize it for what it is. This means, whenever you feel you don’t want to write, evaluate your thoughts:
Why don’t you want to write?
Do you feel overwhelmed?
Do you think you’re not going to succeed?
That you’re a terrible writer?
You’re too tired, you have a million other chores, or there’s a cool new Netflix show everyone’s talking about?
Be honest with yourself: is this true, or is it anxiety? Nine out of ten times, it will be anxiety. It will always be anxiety when you start doubting your abilities. And even if you’re not as good as you’d want, the only way to get better is by, you guessed it, writing.
Consider adding deliberate practice for writing techniques to your writing routine to improve your skills along with making progress on your manuscript.
Now that we know what mental blocks we have for writing, it’s time to take action!
Prioritize to make time for writing
Like many, I also have a full-time job that occupies my day. Some of you might also have children. It often feels like there are just not enough hours in the day. Yet, again, you need to be brutally honest here.
Step two: write down your daily activities and how many hours you spend on them. Do you watch Netflix for a few hours before going to bed? Do you spend hours preparing meals?
Look at the list of activities and see what you can cut. This might mean no more Netflix (or a lot less), meal prep on the weekend, or ordering a meal box.
Now, after you’ve done that, how much time have you freed up? Even if it’s just one extra hour, it’s already one hour extra you have to write.
If you're working on a project, it can also help to add deadlines to each task to motivate you to work on your WIP each day.
How to know when to write
Now that you have freed up some time to write, it’s important to plan when you’re going to write. This requires some trial and error. Perhaps you already know what time of day is your most productive writing time. But, if you don’t, this is where you try it out.
Step three: you can wake up earlier and write before work or before getting the kids ready. If you’re like me and not a morning person at all, you might try some options in the evening. For instance, I tried writing straight after I got home from work but eventually settled on writing after dinner.
Now that I have my own business and don’t have to travel from work, I always write at the end of the day, before dinner (between 5 – 6 pm).
Make time for writing and stick to it
When you’ve found the time that feels right to you, then that’s the time you now need to block.
Everyone around you needs to know that this is the time you write, and no one should disturb you.
So, how can you make sure that you’ll stick with the routine?
Step four: write every single day (or at least most days of the week). Only then will it become a habit.
There can be some flexibility here. For instance, when I’m writing my first draft, I’ve noticed that I can write three days in a row, but not more. I need a day to process what I’ve written and think about it. Then I’ll continue writing again.
You may find something similar in your case. That’s perfectly fine.
It’s also likely that at some point you’re sick, really too tired to do anything, or unavailable due to another appointment. That’s all fine.
If this tends to happen for a few days in a row, it can help to still pick up your laptop or notebook to write, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. You will have written something, and that’s all that matters. You’ve reinforced the habit.
And don’t worry if you’ve missed a day. Simply pick it up again the next day.
The longer you hold on to the habit of writing, the easier it gets to stick with it. Your mind knows what to expect, and it gets into a certain mindset that allows you to write.