Short Version: If you want to be a writer, you need to write. Finding the time to write can be difficult, but if you start small, setting simple goals, you can develop the habit of writing every day.
As I begin to prep for NaNoWriMo (1), I’ve been thinking about how I can successfully carve out time for writing every day. This got me thinking. In the past, I’ve wasted a lot of time feeling I never had time to write. And so…I didn’t. I hear this a lot from other aspiring authors, they want to write, but they have no time. If you dream of writing, you have to make the time and develop writing habits.
I have four kids and am a stay-at-home mom. The primary caretaking of both the kids and house falls on me. Though the days are busy, I’ve always found time to do various projects, including building a house (no literally building a house from the foundation up). These projects benefited the family as a whole but rarely included writing.
The truth is, it’s not that I never had time; it’s that I never made time to write. I didn’t make myself or my writing a priority. To me, writing was a hobby, something selfish I wanted to do benefiting only me. Therefore, I allowed my kids, husband, and household to become the only priority, feeling I didn’t deserve time for a silly hobby.
You Deserve To Follow Your Dreams
Maybe someone needs to hear this; I know I needed it to kickstart my writing habit. I deserve to do something for myself. You deserve a chance to follow your dreams too. Your goals are just as important as your spouse getting a promotion, your son making the football team, or your daughter getting the lead in the school musical. Everyone deserves a shot at their dreams.
I take good care of my kids, I’m a supportive wife, and I work hard to keep everyone happy and healthy. But, I also deserve to be happy. It’s not selfish to take time out for yourself. An hour a day to work on your goals and dreams should be expected, not a reward you get once everyone else’s needs are met.
I always felt guilty for taking time away from the family to write. I often felt like Cinderella; if I finished all these chores, maybe I could go to the ball (write).
I take full responsibility for these thoughts and feelings. No one was telling me no; well, maybe society norms had a negative influence, but my husband and kids weren’t telling me no.
Now, my kids are all in school, and I take the entire morning to write. Somedays, I take a whole day to write, market, and build my author profile. I no longer feel guilty (well, sometimes a little, I’m still human). However, I don’t feel I have to beg and plead for time (even though this thought process was all in my head); I take time and own it because I’m more than just a wife, mom, and caretaker. I’m a writer.
If you want to write, you have to write. There is no way around this fact. The first step is to create habits to get you writing every day. The first step is to figure out what you want to do with your writing. Become a published author? Become a blogger? Write for fun with no intention of sharing? These are all great goals. Again, you have to write, not dream about writing, not think about writing, not plot out stories in your head. Sit down, pick up a pen or use the computer, and write.
Set Daily Goals
A great place to start is by setting a daily goal. Write something, anything, besides a shopping or chore list; those don’t count. Write about your plans for the day, an event you hope to attend, or describe a chore in full detail. It doesn’t matter what you write, especially if you are starting; the goal is to create a habit of writing every day.
Daily Word Count
Set a daily word count goal. Start small, adding more words as you gain confidence. Many successful authors say aim for 500 words a day. It may not be plausible to hit that goal right away. Start small, 50 words a day, then 100, then 150, and so on until you get to 500. If you can manage more than 500 words a day, go for it.
Carve Out Time to Write
Again, start small; try committing 10-20 minutes to write each day. It may take a few days or weeks to carve out extra time. Make writing a priority. Tweak your schedule to create more time to write. Perhaps, getting up 30 mins earlier or staying up later. There should always be time for the essential things in life. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day dedicated to writing.
Take Back Your Time
As I mentioned before, I have four kids and a husband, a dog, and two cats. My home is in constant chaos. Meals, dishes, laundry, packing lunches, school drop-off and pick-up, shopping, walks, gardening, cleaning, homework, snuggles, and the list goes on and on. The neat freak in me struggled with the messy part for a long time. I had to force myself to stop caring.
This past year, my youngest started school, and I took back my mornings. No longer was I doing laundry, cleaning, dishes, dinner prep, or random household projects. No! As soon as I drop off the kids, the mornings are mine. I hole up in my office, and I do writing things for three glorious hours.
I’m lucky; I have the luxury of extra time. I don’t have a job, I’m not a single parent, I’m not a student, and I have time to take for myself. However, it has taken me over 10 years to get to this point.
If you work full-time or don’t have extra help, it will be challenging to make time to write. It’s not impossible, though. It means you have to be pickier when it comes to your time. You may not be able to write every day; maybe you pick two days a week to write for 30 mins. Some time is better than no time.
Write Anywhere and Everywhere
Perhaps no matter what, you don’t have an extra 15 minutes to commit solely to writing. Focus on the daily word count instead. Can you manage to write 500 words over the course of a day? 100 Words? 50 words? Make it a habit to write whenever and wherever you can. Don’t worry if it takes an entire day to reach your daily word goal. It’s crossing the finish line that matters, not how long it takes.
Places I’ve Written
- Commute: I use a lot of public transportation. I have written on the bus, the train, the LUAS, and even in a car while on road trips. Of course, if you are driving, don’t write; bad idea. Writing in the park
- Park: I take my kids to the playground a lot. On nice days, we spend countless hours at the park.I have written many blogs, jotted down story ideas, developed plot outlines, and written a few chapters between playing with the kids, watching them do tricks, and dishing out snacks.
- Beach: I’ve set myself on a blanket and written while the kids and my husband played in the water or sand. Of course, I took time to look for shells and help create sandcastles.
- Hotel Rooms: Vacations with my family include playgrounds, walks, and a lot of downtime. While the kids unwind with a show, my husbandand I write. He mainly blogs about the trips while I write whatever happens to be in my head. Writing in an Air BnB in Malaga, Spain
- Planes: I’m not a fan of flying, so it’s helpful if I can pull out my phone and get lost in a draft to distract myself during take-off. Writing also helps fill the time until I’m safely back on solid ground again.
- Anywhere: I’m not the person always writing, but if an idea or scene pops in my head, it doesn’t matter where I am; I’ll open the Word app and start typing.
Tools I Use On
Phone: I used to carry around a small notebook and pen to jot down notes; that is when I remembered to grab them. I downloaded the MS Office app to my phone, and it has been a game-changer. I almost always have my phone, so no excuses. Not to mention, all my documents automatically sync to my OneDrive, allowing me to move between my phone and computer seamlessly.
Arteck BlueTooth Keyboard: I’m horrible at texting; I’m a one-finger typist on my phone. My husband bought me a Bluetooth keyboard, and it’s fantastic. It folds up and can be taken anywhere. Unfolded, it can be used as a standard keyboard.
Phone Stand: I have a very cheap phone stand I picked up at our version of the dollar store. It’s a simple, two-piece wooden stand that folds down flat, and I can use it anywhere.
You deserve to follow dreams. If your dream is to be a writer, the only thing standing in your way is you. Time can seem like a distant dream; however, if you want something bad enough, you have to take the time to grab it.
- Writing 100-200 words a day is an attainable goal. Make small goals in order to build a writing habit.
- Carve out time each day, whether it’s 10 mins, 20 mins, or an hour.
- Share your goals with family members. Let them know when your writing time is so they can leave you alone.
- Use your time wisely. If you find yourself stuck in line at the store or sitting idly at the park, turn that into writing time.
- Most importantly, don’t talk about writing; write
1. NaNoWriMo: “National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a daunting but straightforward challenge: to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. It takes place during the month of November.”