Writing More, Writing Better – 6 Ways to Find More Time to Write

Do you wrestle with the “I have no time to write” beast – and wish you could be writing more, writing better, and achieving your writing goals? These six ways to find more time to write are from published author and poet, Emma Lee…and they’ll help you write even if you have a full-time job, kids, and other responsibilities to take care of….

But first, one of my favorite writing quotations from Natalie Goldberg:

“I hear people say they’re going to write,” says Natalie Goldberg, author of Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft. “I ask, when? They give me vague statements. Indefinite plans get dubious results. When we’re concrete about our writing time, it alleviates that thin constant feeling of anxiety that writers have – we’re barbecuing hot dogs, riding a bike, sailing out in the bay, shopping for shoes, even helping a sick friend, but somewhere nervously at the periphery of our perception we know we belong somewhere else – at our desk!”

If you want to be a writer, you must make time to write…and then you must write. For more practical and philosophical inspiration from Goldberg, read Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. And, here are Emma Lee’s tips for finding more writing time in the day…

Writing More, Writing Better – 6 Ways to Find More Time to Write

Published authors and freelance writers are always passing on “write every day” advice to aspiring writers, but if you’re trying to write around a day job and activities to promote your writing, how do you find time to write?  With these tips!

1. Dump the word count targets. “Write 2000 words a day” could turn into 2000 words of rubbish a day. Think quality, not quantity.  Aim instead to get a poem completed or reach a critical point in your plot rather than worrying about how many words you’re writing.

2. Stretch your definition of writing. Volunteer to take minutes at a meeting. Treat reports, letters, memos and emails as if they’re another writing project. Don’t break out into verse or elegantly nuance something that needs to be in plain English – but do use it as an opportunity to improve your writing skills in concise, clear, direct language (writing more, writing better!). However, don’t become a nuisance – none of your colleagues will thank you for contributing to every single newsletter.

3. Organize your research, writing materials, tools, etc. Whether you’re perched on the kitchen table or have a study full of filing cabinets, you need a system where you can lay your fingers on anything you need – even if it’s that crucial note on plot development you scribbled on the back of an envelope or an editor’s email address. To find more time to write, spend less time looking for things.

4. Write when you’re most creative. Are you most creative in the morning or evening? If in the morning, consider shifting your sleeping hours so you go to bed earlier and wake earlier. Shift morning chores to the night before or delegate to other family members. If you’re creative at night, reverse the advice. The idea is to increase your writing productivity by working with your natural rhythms.

5. Set the writing mood by leaving loose ends dangling. Leave your work mid-scene or even mid-sentence so you don’t waste precious writing time trying to figure out what the next scene was going to be. Train family members to accept that writing time is not to be disturbed. By all means play music, light candles, sharpen pencils, pour yourself a drink, put up a ‘do not disturb’ sign if it helps the transition from being a parent or rocket scientist to a writer…but don’t let life stop you from writing more and writing better.

6. Break projects into smaller tasks and work steadily towards a deadline. Writing more and writing better almost always involves NOT procrastinating and then working eighteen hour days when the deadline looms! If you break projects into small tasks, then even writing for just half an hour a day will help you end your writing procrastination. If you prefer to procrastinate, then procrastinate by doing double chores until a self-inflicted deadline looms. Then, clear your schedule for a solid block of writing.  You’ve already done your chores so can write without feeling guilty!

Fellow scribes, what do you think of Emma’s tips for finding time to write? We welcome your thoughts below…

To learn more about Emma Lee, visit her at BitterFame.

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10 thoughts on “Writing More, Writing Better – 6 Ways to Find More Time to Write”

  1. Indian Autos Blog

    I think carrying a portable diary around the house with an in-built pen helps when ideas are generated on the move.
    .-= Indian Autos Blog´s last blog post ..Official – Chevrolet Captiva, Cruze in India are OK =-.

  2. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Dwayne ~ maybe God HAS given us extra time…but we just haven’t recognized it! 🙂 I interviewed a writer just the other day, who gets up at 3 am to work on his novel. Maybe we need to ask for discipline and motivation, not extra time…

    Hi Lynn ~ I tried your suggestion (of setting a deadline for the first draft of my e-book), and it worked! I’m planned to send it to my writer’s group tomorrow, and I think I actually will….it may be tomorrow at MIDNIGHT, but having that deadline really spurred me to work hard this week. Thanks!

    By the way, Lynn, can I send you a few questions about self-publishing your books? I’m writing an article about it for this blog, and would love to hear what you think…

    .-= Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen´s last blog post ..How to Create a Strategic Writing Plan – Tips for Organized Writers =-.

  3. Lynn Fowler@Online Marketer

    I’ve been writing since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, but I’ve never really WANTED to be a writer. It’s just something I’ve always done – as much part of me as being a woman. In fact, for much of the time it has been a love-hate relationship.

    I’ve worked in several “writing” jobs (publicity person in a TV studio, advertising rep for a couple of papers) and countless voluntary writing positions (producing newsletters and magazines for various organizations) and have had numerous articles published in magazines, as well as a kids’ book published through a traditional publisher and 2 self-published Christian books.

    The thing that works best for me is a deadline: if I know it has to be done by a certain time, it will get done. Taking short chunks of time to write doesn’t work for me – I need to get into the “zone”, and once I’m there to follow through with the flow.

  4. Ah, writing takes time. Just like writing this little comment here takes time. Yet, it is writing practice and something to do if you are to be a writer.

    Why can’t God give writers an extra hour in the day or allow us good health on half the sleep that everyone else needs?

  5. I like the tips although I will say that a word count goal is actually helpful to keep someone in the writing mode. Quality will improve as someone stays in the groove. Probably won’t work for everyone, but it is the cornerstone for a lot of writers.

    .-= George Angus´s last blog post ..Read An E-Book Week =-.

  6. Nonfiction is definitely creative. Except for the occasional haiku, it’s all I write.

    My main point is that often a freelance writer has to get ‘er done, whether or not he’s feeling creative.
    .-= John Soares´s last blog post ..Capturing and Keeping Your Freelance Writing Ideas =-.

  7. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    I remember reading that whether we write when we are or aren’t feeling creative, the standard of writing is more or less the same. So I tried it — and it’s true! That is, I write when I don’t feel creative, and when I read it later I’d never know if I was writing during a creative time or not.

    Nonfiction is totally creative! The same literary elements apply (or should apply): suspense, foreshadowing, literary techniques, characterization, etc.

    Thanks for your article, Emma….and John, I’m always glad to hear from you! 🙂
    .-= Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen´s last blog post ..Can’t Pay the Bills? How to Combine All Debt Into One Monthly Payment =-.

  8. @John Thanks for dropping by. It wasn’t about only working when you feel creative, but thinking about the best time of day to write and rescheduling other tasks so that you maximise the time available to you at the best time of the day to write. Non fiction can be creative too.

  9. What you say applies very well to people doing creative writing — fiction and poetry.

    As a freelance writer, though, I may not be able to only work when I’m feeling creative. And often I do need to finish 2000 words a day, or 3000.

    I really like your tips on organizing the workspace and breaking tasks into smaller pieces.
    .-= John Soares´s last blog post ..Capturing and Keeping Your Freelance Writing Ideas =-.