The 25th Hour of the Day: Finding Time to Write

“There just isn’t enough hours in a day.”
“I wish I could find time, but I’m always so busy.”
“Couldn’t there just be a time when my thoughts magically appear on the paper?”
“I really should write…after I finish this book.”

If you are like me, than you’ve not only heard these thoughts, but thought them yourself. Unless you have amazing discipline, or writing is your actual income-earning career, the time you use for writing falls into this nebulous space of “I want to use my time to write, but first I need to go to work, hit the grocery store, do some bills, make dinner, clean up after dinner, socialize with my family…” until you find yourself in bed thinking, “Dang, I wanted to write today!” Finding time to write can sometimes be like wishing for that 25th hour in a day. So how do we cram that needed time into the 24 hours we get?

Writing may be my vocation, but it currently doesn’t pay any bills. I have a job, which takes up the bulk of my day. It’s good work, but it leaves my tired, so by the time I get home the last think I want to do is think. In the evening there is the constant debate of “do I write, or do I read this book?” and depending on the outcome, I may or may not write in the evening. So when do I write? Well, the only time left is the night! When it comes to the nightlife, I’m not much of a social butterfly. I would rather be sitting in bed with my laptop, moving the world in my head onto paper. I generally try to get at least one page to a chapter written before I go to sleep most nights, although I am lenient on myself. I’m addicted to books, so if there’s something I really want to read, writing will usually take a back seat. In order to save myself from merely complaining that I don’t have enough time to write, I have a few strategies that keep me working on carving out time for my vocation.

First is the deadline. I’ve found I work much more consistently if there is some sort of pressure to get me to finish at a certain time. I set a deadline for myself and tell one of my writing friends “If I don’t get this manuscript done by X, harass me for the rest of my life.” I usually use holidays, but any day that you won’t forget is a good deadline day. This method had me writing frantically all Christmas Eve one year, but I met my deadline!

Second is the weekly goal. This ties into the deadline, but it’s a smaller expectancy and the punishment isn’t drastic. I set a goal for the week, usually writing a complete chapter, and try to make sure that I hit that goal by Saturday afternoon. My incentive is the friend who waits for that weekly chapter to read and give feedback. Both these methods are good for me, since it doesn’t matter when I get it done, as long as it gets done by Saturday. When you have a deadline of some kind, you’ll find yourself coming up with the time you need to meet it.

Third is break time at work. Most jobs are required by law to give you at least a 15 minute break if you work for a few hours. I take advantage of that by bringing along a notebook and jotting down whatever scene is currently running through my head. It may be for a scene later in the story, but having it written somewhere is better than hoping you’ll remember it when the time comes. Sometimes I’ll work on timelines or character development during these short breaks as well. This way, when I get back to writing that night (or whenever I make time) I have those ideas to work from.

When carving out time, you just have to be creative. There is no fail-proof method that works for everyone because nobody’s lives are the same. I heard about one person who writes between college classes in her car. Other people have a set hour they only use for writing. Some people only write once a week, but they spend nearly all day writing. Finding a motivator is the key. What motivates you to write, and how can you get it to keep you writing?

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. nkeda14
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 22:48:21

    Nice post. Good thoughts on making time to write. My problem is that if I do not have a deadline I do not get work done.


  2. wovenstrands
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 18:53:00

    This is so funny because I was just discussing this problem with a very close friend of mine. I actually started to cry, I guess I’m a little frustrated, but this is what happened.
    I start telling her about what I’ve been doing with my writing and blogging. I’m complaining that I don’t have the time. I have a baby boy, he’s nine months and he naps twice a day (basically that’s my time to do anything) his naps (if I’m lucky) are an hour each. By the time I cleanup the house, take out food for dinner, make dinner, and eat a small snack so I don’t pass out, that leaves me probably five minutes to work with.
    Solution, wait until hubby comes home. Well, when hubby comes home it’s family time, then hubby time. If hubby doesn’t get some time then I would have to hear “I haven’t seen you all day, I’ve been working so hard, I just want to see you, do you have to be sitting on this computer while I’m here?” uhh, feeling bad, I get up. By the time all that is done, I’m so exhausted.
    Lately I’ve been trying to stay up later to try and read a little or write something but that usually messes up my mornings.
    I’m still trying to figure it out.


  3. wovenstrands
    Feb 25, 2011 @ 03:25:19

    I will, thanks for reading my long comment 🙂


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