Perhaps a better phrase would be, ‘How to MAKE time for creative writing’. Here are a few tips on how to do that.
Many people have the dream of writing a book. Few of them have the luxury of endless time, as most are juggling work and other commitments. Ultimately, it comes down to making time, just as you need to make time for chores, exercise and family events. Life is about balance, and allocating ‘me’ time is essential. If creative writing is what you are passionate about, then this counts as your ‘me’ time, and it needs to be scheduled.
- Stop making excuses! It’s just too easy to say, ‘I’ll have more time next week when the kids are back at school’, or ‘I first need to organise my office space’. Just do it. No more excuses. There’s no such thing as the ‘ideal time’ to write. It’s not once your toddler is in school or when you can take a year’s sabbatical or when you retire… now is the ideal time to write.
- Allocate a specific space that is just yours for writing. Not the dining room table. Not where the kids do their homework. It doesn’t matter how big it is, as long as it’s YOUR space. Create an environment that inspires you to write, with a comfortable chair and a desk, and space to pop up the post-it notes with storyline and character ideas.
- Just as you add doctor’s appointments and school activities to your calendar, add in time slots for writing. And don’t miss them, just as you wouldn’t forget your dentist appointment or daughter’s recital. If you use calendar apps such as Google Calendar, you can share these with family members so they know that you are unavailable at that time.
- As the day only has 24 hours – something has to give to make way for writing time. Prioritise what that will be. Do you really need to watch that soapie or reality TV show? Learn how to say no to other things. If you are the person always saying ‘yes’ when asked to be on a committee or to organise events, just say no sometimes. There’s always someone else who can stand in. You’ll be surprised how much more free time you have when you’re not everyone’s ‘go-to’ person.
- Let friends and family know that you are not available at certain times while you’re working on your book. And stick to it. No casual visitors dropping by, no phone calls, no coffee dates. Writing time is writing time.
- Remove any distractions. Close all browser tabs. Mute your social media notifications. Give the dog a bone if that will keep him quiet. Set your alarm for however long you’ve set aside to write, grab a coffee, and don’t stop until the alarm goes off. Or, set a word count and don’t stop until you’ve reached it for the day. Amaze yourself by how much you get done if distractions are removed. Stopping to answer just one message leads to a conversation and spirals from there as you check your other messages.
- If you’re a morning person, get up an hour before the rest of the family. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done before the household awakes. If you’re a night owl, forget that late-night talk show on TV and rather get creative.
- Be organised! Keep your research handy, saved in links or notes. Keep a notebook or use your phone’s recording app to save ideas when creative thoughts pop into your head at random moments, often in the middle of the night. And whatever you do, regularly back up your work to a cloud so that a crashed computer doesn’t mean starting from scratch.
- Delegate. There’s no reason why you need to cook all the family meals. Tweens and teens are quite capable of getting stuck in and creating simple meals. Schedule turns to cook, and this means planning the meal too. They can give you a shopping list at the beginning of the week for what they’ll need when it’s their turn. You may just be pleasantly surprised. The more organised you are in general, the more time you’ll be able to slot in for writing.
- Be spontaneous – grab any available opportunity that pops up. Waiting in the car park for your kids to come out of school? Jot down some ideas. On the train? Rather than scrolling through Facebook, come up with a new character or plot twist.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you. If you truly want to write, make the time for it.