Tag Archives: how to find time to write

How to find more time to write… #amwriting #NaNoWriMo

dear-diary-entry-b6687

Welcome to my weekly ‘Diary of a hopeful author.’ This week it’s all about finding the time to write…

There was a time when I used to think writing was something you had to make an occasion of. I would sit, ready at the table in some formal ‘study’ and wait to write, wait for the inspiration to come. Sure, okay, sometimes the words would flow, other times?  Well, it’d be a brick wall in front of my mind, solid, impenetrable.

For a long time, when my kids were young, that’s how I would write. I was very serious back then. If I was going to do this writing lark, I thought to myself, I was going to do it (in a way that I assumed) was properly. We have this idea in our minds, don’t we, of writers, of what a ‘proper writer’ is, but despite that, despite my mind’s eye of what a real writer should do and look like and act, despite attempting (in vain) to emulate that dreamt up image, something was not working, kept getting in the way. That thing was life.

Life in all its multi-shaped guises has no room, see, for formality, not really when you think about it. If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably have a day job, maybe even a family and definitely the washing to put on, the bins to put out, never mind the more modern day distractions of cell phones and apps and Facebook et al.

Yep, that’s life. And so, as writers we use that, that hectic, hurried time-sucking life – we use it to hide behind. It’s our wall. ‘Oh, life is so busy,’ we wail. ‘I don’t possibly have time to write.’ We think, you see, when we say this that, as I used to believe, writing should be, rather like a grand meal, a formal sit down occasion.

But here’s, after painful processing, what I have realized along my own journey: you can write anywhere, any time – even standing up while the spuds boil. See, life, while mad as cheese, is something else too: generous. We just have to take it up on its offer and snatch moments to write when we can. So, I started to be on the hunt for those snippets of time, eager to see what I could grab and use.

Pen and paper always near or sometimes the laptop close by, I began to slowly squeeze writing into the small gaps in my life: a few minutes while the kettle was brewing; 30, 40 minutes while the kids were still asleep in the morning; 10 minutes before I ran out the door; a good hour or so at the kitchen table before dinner and friends. More and more, I squashed in my writing into, around, on top of my life, any which way, in the end, would do. I found I took delight in it all, in the spontaneous action of it, in seeing where I could write, how, sitting or standing, it didn’t matter.

And do you know what? It worked. Not only did I start to get more done, but my writing was more honest, too, somehow more fluid. Perhaps it was because, in between emptying the bins out and fishing a toy train out of the loo, I didn’t have time to over think what I was writing. I just wrote.

And that’s what I still do today, even at this ‘been published’ stage. Sure, I have a study with more time now to dedicate to writing, but still ingrained in me when the days get busy and booked up, is the compulsion to shoehorn a bit of writing into the crevices of my life whenever I find a free space.

So, if you’re finding yourself saying you are too busy to write, if you think you have an image of a ‘proper writer’, put all that aside, take out your pen and, when you get a moment, simply write. It’s that simple. Because 10 minutes here, an hour there – it all adds up. And, before you know it, without even realizing, you’re something you’ve always wanted to be: you’re a writer.

Happy writing 🙂

Thanks for reading! Join in the writing conversation  below…

Diary of a hopeful author: How to find time to write in 7 steps

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…

Photo of a Diary

Well now, hello there. I’ve been a hot footing it gal this past week, trotting off on my hols and now I’m back. Although, to be fair, those “hols” were in a wet field in North Wales, camping under canvas in the driving wind and rain. Ah, the joys of a British break, the cold, grey swill of clouds that cover the sky like a dirty blanket.

Anyhoo, I’m back to it now and, as the finishing of my book approaches, I’ve trawled through my blog this week to find a piece I wrote on, well, writing, or, more specifically, how to keep on writing. And so, because, writing’s a solitary job, below you’ll find my wafflings on how, when the doubts set in or the ideas dry up, I keep on writing all the same.

I’ve added for you, at the end of it, a 7-step summary, a quick-fire solution, if you will, on how to find time to write.  Hope it helps. Laptops/pens/crayons at the ready…

“How to find time to write”

Time’s a devil, isn’t it? I mean, a right old devil. It’s rather like a teenager; one minute it loves you and gives you a kiss good night, the next it hates your guts and will do anything it can to sabotage your day.

Well folks, I’m here to tell you that rather like marmalade and ham, or a fleece with heels, say, writing and time do not always go together. Unless you’re my daughter, in which case, apparently marmalade and ham are as tasty as a chocolate covered marshmallow.

You see, as a writer, one of the things I find myself uttering is, ‘I haven’t got enough time.’ Sound familiar? Heck, if you’re a mum/dad/busy employee/avid House DVD box-set watcher, you’ll know exactly what I mean, too. Because we never have enough time, do we?

Our days are packed, stuffed, if you will, to the rafters. Like a cupboard that is rammed full of clothes we don’t want but haven’t yet sorted, our days are fit to burst with things to do. Work. Making dinner. Eating dinner. Having dinner flicked on you by child. Seeing friends. Phoning friends. Ebaying till the wee hours of the morning to win the all-wool blazer you’ve had your eye on (long story – it’s coming up to winter here…). Either way you split it, time ain’t on your side. And that’s before you even begin to do something as taxing as writing.

And this is the thing. Writing, if that’s your bag, is the job that gets shoved to the bottom of your to-do list. ‘I don’t have time!’ we wail, crawling into bed, our minds alert to the fact that in 6 hours we’ll be up and on that living treadmill again.

So what do we do? Well, apart from eating our body weight in chocolate and watching re-runs of Friends, we stop. Yup, you didn’t miss hear me. Stop. Go on, put those feet up. That’s it. Now  breathe. Because, halting what we do, you see, strangely, gives us – yes you’ve guessed it, you bright spark, you – time.

This time slot though, is different. It’s different because this time haven gives us time to think, and as writers our ability to think is one of our best assets. So, if we always fill our time and never stop, how will we ever, you know, think? You with me?

So, once you’ve let your brain loose on some free-range thinking, your next task is to be honest. No, I don’t mean fess up on the knock-a-door-run you used to play on your neighbours when you were 9 (it wasn’t me, honest), but be honest with yourself. Come on, get it out. How much time do you really waste? We’re talking honesty here, remember? I bet you my entire chocolate stash that, if you really thought about it, you could identify little pockets of time where you either : a) waste; b) take on too much; or c) procrastinate. Me, I can answer a safe ‘yes’ to all three. See? Me, being, you know, honest.  Virtual high fives.

Now, once you’ve been honest, take that thinking time you’ve stolen and get time slotting. When do you think you could snatch some writing time? Thought yet? I’ll help a little. You see me, I’m a morning gal. Sad, so sad, but true. So for years now, morning writing is my thing. When my kids were babies, I would rise at 5am to get a couple of hours writing under my belt before the day’s vomiting/feeding/bottom wiping/gurgling would commence, and that was just my husband (joke…).  Today, the girls are a tad older, but I still get up early where I can. My hubbie is not like me. He is a night owl, and while I fall asleep in front of the TV, mouth dribbling like a carp on a ship deck, his brain is just beginning to whirr into action. Me, I am useless to no one at that time.

So, that’s the next nugget – pick your time poison, so to speak. Are you a morning dude or a night rocker? And don’t forget those middle-of-the day snippets, too. 10 minutes of writing here, 20 minutes there. Grab a pen and write down whatever waffle comes into your head (or look! Write a waffle blog…!) And of course, folks – and here’s the silver lining – reading counts as time well spent when you’re a writer. I know! Yup, who knew that reading books was a job-ish. Dammit – it is! If you don’t read, you can’t write – and that is the joy (jammy sod element) of our craft

So go grab that time, people. Go! And when you get it, stick it between your teeth and don’t let it go until you’ve written something. And me? I’m releasing my jaw on this, my own sneaky little writing time slot…now.

7-Steps to take to find time to write:

1. Stop. Breathe. Step away from the laptop/pen/crayon

2. Use this break as time to think. Maybe fix a snack.

3. Now ask yourself (honestly): How much time do I really waste not writing?

4. Identify, from that time wasting analysis, slots where you can write – e.g. before breakfast, on the train, when the kids are asleep, lunch break

5. Know if you are a morning or evening person. When do you work best?

6. Put steps 4 & 5 together and there you have identified times when you can write. High five.

7. Get writing – anything will do, whatever’s in your head. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Just write it. Get it out of your head and on to the page. Go on. Edit later.  If struggling, repeat steps 1&2, with extra snacks.

Do you have enough time to write, or to do anything, for that matter? What are your time-snatching secrets? Share it with the people – come on! Let’s hear it.

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

Diary of a hopeful author: How a deadline can make stuff happen

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

When I was young I loved studying. Loved it. I was one of those spectacled, nerdy kids who lapped up the books and got down to some serious studying every evening and thought it fun. FUN. 

That’s right. You heard correctly. Then exams came round. Exams. I’m afraid to say they never really fazed me. Christ, I sound like a right arrogant muppet, so let me explain. Exams got me nervous, of course. Exams made me question whether I knew anything. (30 years on, nothing’s changed there…) But, BUT, exams came with a deadline. A deadline! They gave you a date! You had to be there. On time! Oh it sang to my young time-concious heart like Romeo to Juliette, or Homer to Marg.

Because, you see, I love a deadline. What can you do with a deadline? You either meet it or you don’t. You sink or you swim. And that’s why I like ‘em. Deadlines are the take no prisoner guardians of time. They stand by the gates of hours and minutes, tapping their watch, shotgun in hand. You’ve got a deadline? You meet it, punk! (that sounded better in my head)

And so, to my week. I have set myself a deadline. I refer here to the editing of my book, novel number two which, it seems I have been working on forever.

Now look, I don’t know about you but I can be a cracking procrastinator. Olympic medal winning. Skirting boards need cleaning? Pass me the cloth. Cupboards need re-organising? When do I start? Kids’ rooms need cleaning? Get me…Actually, no. It’s not come to that.  You get my meaning. Add this top draw procrastination into a book edit and well, you’ve got nothing, really. No progress or, at the very least, slow progress. And so I have now turned to my old friend the deadline. If I am going to complete the 1st (only the first!) edit of this novel, then I need to get down and dirty with time.

The deadline I have set is Christmas. Christmas. I say it again so you can remember it. You can remember it so you can hold me to it. Oh crap. Saying it on this blog, you see, means I have to do it. Think of yourself as my boss, if you will, telling me to get the bloody work done by Christmas or goddammit I’m outta here! (Again, better in my head).  Meeting the deadline means averaging two edit chapters a week at minimum, sometimes more. It sounds lame, two, but trust me, it’s a lot. I have 100k words to edit. 100k words with a lot of Lovefilm app distraction on my iPad.

If you’ve got a deadline, then buddy, I salute you. If not, then go get one. Let’s do this deadline thing together, people, because, when our backs are up against the wall, it’s the only way to get things done. Nerdy glasses optional.

 Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about the UK Police Commissioner elections and how ridiculous they are…**

Diary of a hopeful author: My top 10 writing scares this Halloween…Woooo!

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

Sometimes, I don’t know what to write. In fact, I’m sitting here now, and I haven’t a clue what to say. Well, okay, not exactly not a clue, but…Oh crap. See?

Not knowing what to write is something that scares me. Rather like used boxer shorts or two old people kissing, it’s something that gives me the heeby jeebies. It’s got me to thinking this week, therefore, about all things scary.

Today, of course, you lovely person you, is Halloween, that annual event where the expectation is that things scare you (as opposed to regular day scary stuff like, I don’t know, selfish politicians or iceberg lettuce) on a normalised scale. And so, I ask, what scares you? Indeed, let me take that one step further, if I may, and ask, what scares me?

In writing terms, I’d say everything scares the pants off me. I mean every-ruddy-thing. Not finishing a story. Not having any news ideas. Running out of ink. No juice left in my iPad when I need it TO EDIT!! You name it, there it is. And so, what I’ve decided to do this week, let’s say for fun, is compile a short, yet I like to think, comprehensive list of writing things that spook me right up. I may know what to do about them, I may not. You may have the same freak outs as me, you may not. But either way, it fills the page. Because, let’s face it, a blank page, writers, is the scariest thing of all…

My top ten scary writing things…

10. No pens – Yes, the laptop maybe the new pen, but no pens just scares me senseless. I need to feel the page, the glide of ink on paper. Call me old-fashioned. Or just call me old (my kids do…)

9. Being cold – Okay, I admit, an odd one this, but hear me out. I work at home. In the UK (one for the international folk. Hi!) In the winter it gets COLD. I mean shiver-to-your-bone-freezing. Trouble is, when you are sitting in one room in the house, it seems like a crime to put the heating on for just one person. So, I come armed with: a) a hot water bottle, b) furry slippers, and c) blankets. As I said, call me old…

8. Running out of coffee – Oh dear Lord, right. I ran out of coffee the other day and oh sweet Jesus, I couldn’t keep awake. It was 5 am and believe me, you don’t get much done when your eyes are clamping shut and your head is lolling on the key pad. My forehead, it turns out, can’t type that well. So coffee. Need it!

7. Running out of chocolate – as per above but in a different way. I don’t actually eat too much during the day as it sends me on a sleepy sugar low 20 mins later and all I want to do is crawl into bed and ignore everything. But, other times, chocolate is all you need. It can help me feel better! It has serotonins! It tastes so, so good! So if I’m out and I need it, well, god help me.

6. No internet access – What on earth did we do before the Internet? I mean, what? I cannot imagine researching my novel/column/where to go on holiday by library alone. The internet is so quick! So instant! And I don’t have to move. That gives me more time for chocolate.

5. Running out of ideas – Arrrggg! ARRRRRGGGG! Please! NEVER LET THIS HAPPEN OR I’M STUFFED! Enough said.

4. Writer’s block – Holy crap. Holy, holy crap. This scares us all, doesn’t it? Does it scare you? It scares the bejesus out of me. Usually, I can cut short a lull in writing by doing something else then coming back to the writing. Which leads me on to my next scare…

3. Not being able to run – It’s how I overcome a scribe’s blockage, if you will. Yup, got writer’s block? Go for a run. Or a walk. Or a cycle, whatever, just get out. Works for me so much that I cannot cope without it. And, it also means I can keep eating all that chocolate, so you know, every cloud…

2. My laptop breaking – Nope. Sorry. Just cannot contemplate this one. Uh-uh. No. NO!

1. Never getting a chance to write – It’s the number 1 and boy, what would I do without writing. I love writing. Love it. It’s my (cringe alert!) passion. It really, really is. It’s all I want to do for a job. It’s like a job that doesn’t feel like a job, and if you can achieve that, when you have to, as a grown up, work for a living, then you’re on to a winner, right? It might be hard at times, low paid for a looooong time – you may even start talking to yourself (hello, me!). Heck, people may say along the way that it’s a dream this writing lark, but I ain’t giving it up. Nope. No way. Because that really would scare me.

What scares you about writing? Or about, hey, anything else for that matter? Tell it to me.

 Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about the wrongness of the objection to the solar panels in Thornbury’s Castle Street…**

Diary of a hopeful author: How to find more time to write…

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

 Time’s a devil, isn’t it? I mean, a right old devil. It’s rather like a teenager; one minute it loves you and gives you a kiss good night, the next it hates your guts and will do anything it can to sabotage your day.

Well folks, I’m here to tell you that rather like marmalade and ham, or a fleece with heels, say, writing and time do not always go together. Unless you’re my daughter, in which case, apparently marmalade and ham are as tasty as a chocolate covered marshmallow.

You see, as a writer, one of the things I find myself uttering is, ‘I haven’t got enough time.’ Sound familiar? Heck, if you’re a mum/dad/busy employee/avid House DVD box-set watcher, you’ll know exactly what I mean, too. Because we never have enough time, do we?

Our days are packed, stuffed, if you will, to the rafters. Like a cupboard that is rammed full of clothes we don’t want but haven’t yet sorted, our days are fit to burst with things to do. Work. Making dinner. Eating dinner. Having dinner flicked on you by child. Seeing friends. Phoning friends. Ebaying till the wee hours of the morning to win the all-wool blazer you’ve had your eye on (long story – it’s coming up to winter here…). Either way you split it, time ain’t on your side. And that’s before you even begin to do something as taxing as writing.

And this is the thing. Writing, if that’s your bag, is the job that gets shoved to the bottom of your to-do list. ‘I don’t have time!’ we wail, crawling into bed, our minds alert to the fact that in 6 hours we’ll be up and on that living treadmill again.

So what do we do? Well, apart from eating our body weight in chocolate and watching re-runs of Friends, we stop. Yup, you didn’t miss hear me. Stop. Go on, put those feet up. That’s it. Now  breathe. Because, halting what we do, you see, strangely, gives us – yes you’ve guessed it, you bright spark, you – time.

This time slot though, is different. It’s different because this time haven gives us time to think, and as writers our ability to think is one of our best assets. So, if we always fill our time and never stop, how will we ever, you know, think? You with me?

So, once you’ve let your brain loose on some free-range thinking, your next task is to be honest. No, I don’t mean fess up on the knock-a-door-run you used to play on your neighbours when you were 9 (it wasn’t me, honest), but be honest with yourself. Come on, get it out. How much time do you really waste? We’re talking honesty here, remember? I bet you my entire chocolate stash that, if you really thought about it, you could identify little pockets of time where you either : a) waste; b) take on too much; or c) procrastinate. Me, I can answer a safe ‘yes’ to all three. See? Me, being, you know, honest.  Virtual high fives.

Now, once you’ve been honest, take that thinking time you’ve stolen and get time slotting. When do you think you could snatch some writing time? Thought yet? I’ll help a little. You see me, I’m a morning gal. Sad, so sad, but true. So for years now, morning writing is my thing. When my kids were babies, I would rise at 5am to get a couple of hours writing under my belt before the day’s vomiting/feeding/bottom wiping/gurgling would commence, and that was just my husband (joke…).  Today, the girls are a tad older, but I still get up early where I can. My hubbie is not like me. He is a night owl, and while I fall asleep in front of the TV, mouth dribbling like a carp on a ship deck, his brain is just beginning to whirr into action. Me, I am useless to no one at that time.

So, that’s the next nugget – pick your time poison, so to speak. Are you a morning dude or a night rocker? And don’t forget those middle-of-the day snippets, too. 10 minutes of writing here, 20 minutes there. Grab a pen and write down whatever waffle comes into your head (or look! Write a waffle blog…!) And of course, folks – and here’s the silver lining – reading counts as time well spent when you’re a writer. I know! Yup, who knew that reading books was a job-ish. Dammit – it is! If you don’t read, you can’t write – and that is the joy (jammy sod element) of our craft

So go grab that time, people. Go! And when you get it, stick it between your teeth and don’t let it go until you’ve written something. And me? I’m releasing my jaw on this, my own sneaky little writing time slot…now.

Do you have enough time to write, or to do anything, for that matter? What are your time-snatching secrets? Share it with the people – come on! Let’s hear it.

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about the NHS and how privatisation of it is wrong. So very, very wrong…**