Lazette Gifford
Publisher & Editor


Finding Time to Write

By Michele Acker
Michele Acker

Do you work full-time?  Are you a stay-at-home parent with young children, or a full time student with classes to attend and daily mounds of homework?  Whoever you are, I'm sure you've had days when you despaired about having no time for yourself, let alone time to write. 

But you can find time to write, if you want to badly enough.

Following are a few suggestions that will help you carve time out of your busy day.  Not all the suggestions will work for everyone, but hopefully, you can find one or two that will work for you.

1) The first consideration should be to the people who are most important in your life.  Kids, especially, don't like to be left out and will resent it if you go off by yourself and forbid them to disturb you.  Instead, get them involved.  I have older kids who love to discuss story ideas with me.  It gives them the feeling they are part of my work.  Don't discount their suggestions.  My son has given me some wonderful ideas.

2) Depending on when you're most alert, either get up an hour earlier, or stay up an hour later to write.  You'd be surprised how quiet the house is when you get up before the rest of the household.

3) If you're a stay-at-home parent with young children, you can always find time to write while the little ones are napping or occupied with watching a movie.

4) Hate to walk the family dog, vacuum, or wash dishes?  Love them instead.  Don't think of those things as chores anymore, consider them opportunities.  Think about your latest novel or run snatches of dialogue through your head while you do your chores.

5) Do you drive to work?  Consider buying a small tape recorder and tape thoughts or scenes as you drive.  Recorders nowadays are small, inexpensive, and easily portable.

6) Consider either carpooling or taking public transportation.  The extra time will allow you to read, jot down notes, work on plot problems, or even write long hand.

7) Train yourself to work in ten or fifteen minute bursts.  It can be done.  Writers often think about a particular story or novel they're working on, and if you take a few minutes whenever you can to write down what's currently going through your head, you can weave the pieces together later when you have more time.

8) Take break and lunch times and use those to write.  Either eat while you're writing or doing research, or eat during your breaks and use your lunch hour to get some serious writing done.

9) Try getting to work an hour earlier, or staying an hour later.  Not only does it give you time to concentrate, but you miss rush hour traffic as well, which can be a real time waster.  I get to work at 7am and spend the hour from 7-8 answering emails or sending out stories or queries.

10) Let the internet help you research.  Find and bookmark potentially useful sites so you can find them again easily.  Use the research others have done to help you find potential markets.  Join organizations that specialize in your genre such as RWA or SFWA, and take advantage of all their benefits.  Join mailing lists and pay attention to other people's experience with editors and agents so you don't make the same time-wasting mistakes they did.

11) Consider buying an AlphaSmart.  At less than $300, they're cheaper and more portable than a laptop and they don't need an electrical outlet to operate.  While a laptop will only run for about 4 hours without recharging, an AlphaSmart can run for upwards of 300 hours on only 3AA batteries.  The great thing about them is not only can you upload from an AlphaSmart to your PC, but you can download stuff to your AlphaSmart to work on later.  Because the screen is only four lines wide, it keeps you writing instead of wasting time editing.  Use them while you're waiting for a doctor's appointment, or having your oil changed.  Take them to your kids' soccer practices, or while they're having fun at a skating party.

12) Consider taking a weekend vacation.  Go to the beach or the mountains, away from your family, and spend that time working on your novel or short stories.  If you can't afford to go out of town, rent a nearby hotel room for a night or two, order room service and lose yourself in your writing.  Forget how much work it can be and learn to enjoy yourself again.

13) Lastly, take care of yourself.  Get plenty of sleep and eat healthy foods.  You can't be creative if you aren't healthy.