July 7, 2017 – Alexandria, VA
People are always asking me, how do you find time to write, with a full-time job? My answer: It’s like anything. If it brings you joy, and you want it badly enough, you will do it. It also helps that I hate cleaning my house (I contract out for that :)).
If you are dedicated to achieving your writing goals, here are some tips that have helped me:
Set a realistic daily or weekly word goal, i.e. 500 or 1,000 words a day, and do your best to stick to it.
One option is to write for 10 minutes a day. Abandon the idealistic notion that everything you write must be perfect as soon as you set the words down. Most of the time, it will not be. Just write. For many, it is easier to edit what you have already written than to write fresh words. Get the words down, and you can go back and edit later.
A friend of mine wrote a book called How to Write a Book in Five Days. She presents an easy structure in which you can achieve this goal. This strategy is geared toward writing what she calls “dime store fiction,” i.e. romance, thrillers, etc. This strategy will not work if your intention is to write the next Grapes of Wrath. At the end of the five days, you end up with a 50,000 word manuscript. Yes, you will write 10,000 words a day, and you will not pay attention to grammar and structure. You will fix those things after you have completed your draft.
I occasionally do a variation of this strategy, depending on my schedule. If I have several evenings free, I will set a goal of, i.e. 1,000 or 2,000 words an evening, and at the end of 5 evenings I have 5,000 to 10,000 words, no small accomplishment.
Sprinting is an effective method that was introduced to me by Kristen Lamb. Set a timer for, e.g. 30 minutes, and write/edit/etc. Afterward, report to others what you have accomplished, i.e. wrote 500 words, edited 5 pages, etc. Kristen hosts a social media site for authors, WANATribe , where many of us do writing sprints together.
Carry a notepad, smart phone or other device to take notes whenever inspiration strikes you, so you don’t lose your creative flow. Then make time to add your notes to your manuscript.
I’ve given you a few different methods for getting your writing done. Yes, writing is a lot of work, especially if you’re doing it on top of your full-time job and family obligations. Yes, you will forego social gatherings, etc. Yes, you will spend a lot of time indoors instead of enjoying the sun outside. Whatever you choose to do in life is up to you. So ask yourself, how badly do you want to achieve your writing goals?
Authors, how do you write? Do you use writing sprints? Do you write a little every day or do you devote blocks of days to writing? Let me know in the comments!