Writing tips for those with little time

With a full-time job, social life, family, and other obligations, you may find it difficult to find time to write. Here are five tips for finishing that project in a time-boxed manner.

  1. Get your butt in that chair. You may be familiar with the “butt in chair time” concept if you work in technology or other demanding field. The idea is that you’re not putting in the work unless you’re present at your desk. That’s a terrible concept in the workplace, but it’s fantastic for writing. I have some good news and some bad news: Your muse? She doesn’t exist. If you wait for your muse to show up before you sit down to write, you’ll never finish that poem/project/novel. What counts in writing is butt in chair time and fingers on keyboard time (or pen on paper time, if you roll that way). Sit there. Even if nothing is happening. Learn to love writer’s block. Eventually, the words will come.
  2. Read, read, and read. When it’ s not your allotted time for writing, read some more. Reading is absolutely the best way to learn how to write. Pick books that are totally different from your writing style, very similar to your writing style, and everything in between. If you’re writing a romance, read plenty of romances but also plenty of mysteries, and vice versa. Get some inspiration. No, browsing the web doesn’t count (see below).
  3. Shut down social media. Close those tabs. Your BFF can wait for you to post that kitten photo another day. You can hold off on looking at your BFF’s kitten photos until another day. All the kitten and puppy photos will still be there, when you’re done writing. Prioritize the writing.
  4. Don’t write and edit at the same time. Editing is by nature a destructive act. It must be done, but when you are there to create, just create. Save a separate allotment of time for editing. When you’re in revision mode, then you can put on your editor’s cap. Separate the two. Say, Saturdays are for revisions, and Sundays are for adding more words. When you’re there to add words, resist the urge to go back and change what you’ve already written.
  5. Set a schedule. Whatever you have time for. I set aside 2-3 hours a day in the evening. Whatever it is, stick to it. Make it regular. Get your coffee/herbal tea/snacks lined up. Free yourself from distraction. Get someone else to do the dishes/do the laundry/babysit the kids for that precious hour or two. You’ll be surprised what you can write in a short period of time once you stick to the schedule. When the time is up, stop writing! This may sound counterintuitive, but you can’t write if you never recharge. Eventually you’ll train yourself to write on the schedule, recharge off the schedule.

closeup of a notebook

 

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