Tips on finding time for writing
The average income for a writer is something like £12,500, so the chances are if you want to write then you’re juggling a day job and possibly children or at least a partner or a pet. Finding the right work/life balance can be tough for those who just go out to work on a daily basis, let alone need to find the time to write a book. Yet it is possible and there are plenty of writers who are proof of that.
I work full time, have two kids and a husband, plus I also run an educational charity which includes one evening a week overseeing a teenage coding club. I still find time to write though. I can’t give you a magic answer to help you, but I can tell you some things I do to find writing time:
Manage your sleep
There are really only 24 hours in the day and so somehow you have to squeeze as much out of those hours as you can. One thing I do is sleep less. I used to be an eight hours a night girl, now it’s more like six or seven if I’m lucky. During looming deadlines, it’s five hours or less. At weekends, rather than have a lie-in, I will power nap for 20 minutes and that gives me the mental capacity to keep on going.
Use your Lunch hours and breaks
I rarely go out for my lunch hour at work. Instead I will either try to slip away somewhere quietly and write, or do the various bits I need to do for the marketing if the environment isn’t right for creativity. There are plenty of apps for writing, including the fantastic Scrivener app, or you can just use the good old pen and paper and type it up later.
Find family downtimes
Weekends are precious. I want to spend time with my family, but I also need to write. It’s therefore essential that not only do I get out of bed on time, but I also use those hours when the family are occupied with their own projects. If you take your kids to clubs then use the time they’re there to write, even if it means sitting in the car and doing it.
Forget the Housework!
Yes I’m afraid to say my house isn’t always the tidiest. There are certain things you can’t avoid, like feeding the kids, but when it comes to tidying and cleaning I’m afraid our house looks very ‘lived in’ during deadline time. I do the basics, or have a manic rush around if someone is due to visit, and I’ll also rope in husband and kids to help. I motivate the children by reminding them that my book writing helps pay for Christmas presents!
Write on the Go
I’m not someone who has thus far been able to write by dictating, I’m far too visual, but others swear by it once they’ve got used to it. There’s a software called Dragon dictation which some writers use when they’re walking or jogging, or simply at home because in theory it’s much faster than typing. It also helps with RSI. For me, I like to let my characters have conversations and I write lines and scenes in my head when I’m doing something non-taxing like showering, commuting or cooking dinner. Just make sure that once you’ve come up with the great lines and plot, you jot it down. If you’re a train or bus commuter then you’ve no excuse and even if you drive to work, use your phone dictation app.
Don’t make Excuses
There are so many people who have come up to me and said, ‘I wish I could write a book like you, but I don’t have time,’ It’s hard sometimes not to be quite blunt with them. If you look at my schedule, I don’t have time either but the difference is that I love writing, I have to write – always have and always will. Yes it’s damned hard work, but you can set your own schedule. If there’s a day when you can’t write, or even a week, don’t beat yourself up. life will get in the way. The fact is that if you are waiting for that perfect time to write then the chances are it will never come. We can fill our days with ‘things to do’, even if we are retired. The main thing is just get on with it.