by Georgina Makalani
We want to write but we struggle with finding the time to sit down.
Or we don’t think there is enough time. Quite often I hear, “I can’t find the time.”
Maybe it is a case of making the time rather than trying to find it.
And it is possible to write quite a lot in a small amount of time. It is a matter of being focused and making the most of the time you do have.
How much time do you have?
We all have the same number of hours in a day but it is how you use it. Before we start, I am in no way suggesting that you work flat out for 16 hours because it just isn’t possible. In considering the time you have available you also need to consider your energy levels and cycles.
Finding free time
Closely look at what you do over a day and determine when you have time to write. It may be more than you realised.
- What time do you do get up? Or are you a night owl?
I’m an early riser; I love the peace and quiet of the pre-dawn hours that I just can’t find at any other time of the day. And the kids are still in bed, so the only possible interruption is the cat and she is easily worked around. You may be comfortable with those night time hours, when everyone else has gone to bed. It’s a different kind of quiet but it might be what you need.
- If you work, what do you do between meetings or during lunch time?
I get an hour for lunch and I do use three a week for the gym, but two of them (and occasionally more) are available for writing.
- Other times?
When could you squeeze 10 or 15 minutes worth of writing into your day?
Such as sitting in the carpark waiting for school to get out, or when your husband/wife/partner is out with mates; or while the washing is on…
I’m also able to use those free times that pop up, like arriving early for a meeting somewhere. To be able to do this you will need to carry appropriate things with you.
I find that booking writing time works well for me. I have the first hour of my day booked for writing. And knowing that once I’m awake and made my cup of tea that I sit at my desk and write is somewhat comforting and the routine helps me find the flow quickly.
Sometimes we can’t find the time and so need to create the time
- Cutting out non-essential tasks – Are you able to create more writing time by reducing the amount of time spent on other non-essential tasks? Everyone will have a different idea of what non-essential is. For me it’s ironing and washing floors. I do them, but not all the time. Actually they can become a great unblocker if needed. Sometimes you need the space to allow your mind to think over stories, or a problem area and the ironing can be a great way to do that. Same with weeding or mowing the lawn (tasks that I have outsourced completely now)
- Cut out distractions (tv) – I find at times that I’m sitting watching goodness knows what rubbish on the box when I could be doing other things, like writing, or planning. There are times that the two can be done together (depends how you go with noise); and there will be times that you need that down time, to re-energise. But don’t waste precious time watching rot.
- Arranging time with partners/family – My daughter knows that if I’m at my desk on a Saturday morning to leave me alone. I will emerge in time to get her ready and take her to ballet class, but that time is mine. Discuss what you need and want for your writing with your family and their support will be invaluable in several ways, one of which may be that your partner will occupy the kids or at least leave you alone to write at agreed times.
Making the most of the time you do have
Now that you have all this time that you have discovered or created what are you going to do with it?
I suggest having a plan for your writing, knowing what stage you are at and what you want to achieve either in the coming period (week) or during that writing session. It is also worthwhile having your writing on hand so that any time that crops up you are ready for.
I carry my current chapter on a flash drive and print outs of what I’m editing so I can work on either at any time. I also carry a slim folder that has my to do lists, plans and notes.
How much free time can you find in your day for writing and how are you going to make the most of it? Share your plan in the comments box below.