One challenge I hear time and again from aspiring writers is finding time to write. Many writers feel discouraged because they can’t figure out how to incorporate writing into their already busy schedule. They’ve got work demands, family demands, household tasks, and the list goes on. This is a very real and valid concern for all writers, especially those just starting out.
That’s why I want to challenge you to develop a new mindset toward writing.
If you are serious about writing—whether it’s part of your business, a personal ambition, or something you believe you’ve been called to do—then you have to start looking at writing as a priority, not an add-on to your to-do list.
That might mean cutting other activities or commitments from your schedule in order to make time to write.
When I first started blogging, I was raising two small children and running an already hectic freelance writing business from home. I hired a babysitter twice a week in order to work on projects for my clients. At that time, blogging was a big added time commitment. My only option was to work on my blog posts during my “free time,” which as you can imagine was limited to non-work-day nap hours and evening hours after my kids went to bed. These were the hours I had previously spent on hobbies, chief of which was creating photo books of our family photos. In order to pursue blogging, I made the conscious decision to prioritize writing over photo books. Eight years later, I’m about eight years behind on my photo books. But I have authored three books to show for it, plus countless blog posts and a growing subscriber list.
It hasn’t been easy. And there are times I missed out. When I was writing my first book, my younger daughter was in part-time preschool and still home with me much of the week, so I didn’t have full school days to devote to writing like I do now. That meant my husband covered for me a couple Saturdays a month for four or five months until the book was done. I got a lot of writing done on those Saturdays. But I missed outings to the park, the archery range, Grandma’s house, and the ice cream shop. I missed board games and bike rides. That was the choice we made as a family. And in the end, thankfully, my girls weren’t complaining; they were proud of me. When The SuperMom Myth finally hit the shelves, my youngest was then in kindergarten, and she brought the book to school for show and tell. When asked who their favorite author is, my girls both say “my mom.” So… yes, I missed out on some things. But I gained a lot, too.
Pursuing writing as a career move or a calling will require intention and sacrifice. You need to ask yourself if it’s worth it. How badly do you want to succeed as a writer? To say you don’t have time is simply saying you’re not making it a priority yet. And that’s okay—if that’s what you’ve chosen. I’m just encouraging you to make sure it is just that—a choice, not a default. You don’t have to be a victim of a busy schedule. You own your schedule – along with God, who owns every minute of your day, and if He’s calling you to write, then He is most likely not the one throwing obstacles in your path. More often we run from Him in disobedience because we claim we don’t have the time to do what He’s asking. The truth is, you can find time to write—if you really want to.
Here are some helpful tips for shifting your mindset and making time to pursue your writing:
1. Don’t wait around for inspiration. Writing must become a craft. That means it’s a habit, a skill that you work on a little bit at a time, on a regular and frequent basis. Professional writers are not dependent on inspired moments. Writing is their job and they sit down to do it daily. They schedule it into their calendars.
Now—does that mean what they create is brilliant every time? No. Which brings me to my second point.
2. Do not measure your writing session by the results. Sometimes you will set aside a hard-fought hour or an afternoon to work on writing, and you’ll end up with nothing complete or usable. Is that frustrating? Yes. But it’s not pointless. In fact I’d argue quite the opposite. Any experience you gain exercising your writing muscles is valuable, whether you end up with something to show for it or not. Remember writing is a craft; it’s both an art and a science, and just the act of doing it—regardless of results—is an important part of the journey toward becoming a better writer.
3. Replace another activity with writing time. Like I mentioned earlier, when I first starting blogging, I had to cut out some hobbies in order to make time for writing. I simply chose an activity that was less important to me than pursuing my writing goals. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the other activity (creating photo books). I did. I still miss having leisure time to work on them. But I wanted to pursue writing more.
Is this a hard step to take? Yep. But if we go into the endeavor of writing believing we can do all things, and attempting to do all things at once, we’re far more likely to get burnt out. In order to make a writing pursuit sustainable, it needs to fit within your lifestyle.
4. Expand your margins. By that I mean consider getting up earlier or staying up later in order to squeeze out some time for writing. Now—this advice does not work for everyone. Personally I turn into a beast when I haven’t gotten adequate sleep. And yet I know authors who wrote entire books between the hours of 5 and 7 a.m. One of my friends is a popular YouTuber; she gets up at 3:30 every morning to record her videos before her toddler wakes up.
Again, I’m not necessarily advocating for that—it would kill me, personally—but the idea here is to consider what time you might have that you didn’t even know you had. If you’re a natural early riser or a night owl, consider using your body’s rhythms to your advantage.
5. Put the blinders on. I work from home. That means on any given day I have a stack of dishes and laundry that I could stare at and feel compelled to wash, dry and put away. Many of us are pursuing our writing goals from a home office—or the kitchen table—and the lines between household responsibilities and writing tasks can get really blurry, really fast. That’s why I recommend making a deliberate decision to develop tunnel vision for your task of writing.
When you have a block of writing time set aside, use it to write—and learn to blind yourself to the household chores and other tasks around you. Believe me, I know this isn’t easy. I am wired to think clearer and breathe easier when my physical surroundings are tidier. But ideal conditions aren’t always possible, so for me writing has become a journey of learning to let go of the endless housework and focus solely on writing when writing time is planned.
6. Confer with your spouse. If writing is to truly become a priority in practice and not just in theory, chances are you’re going to need support. Especially for those of us who are married or have kids, you know your time is not necessarily your own. It’s important to have open conversations with your spouse about how you can carve out time to dedicate to your writing goals.
Writing should be a blessing and not a source of contention in your family life. I’m not saying you won’t have some stressful seasons, but in general you can get through them successfully if your spouse has your back—and you have his. Figure out what that means for you and your family specifically, and be careful not to allow writing to become bigger than your relationships.
My husband is constantly keeping me in check on this issue, and I’m grateful for his perspective and support. I want you to have that same kind of cheerleader in your spouse. It begins with talking honestly about your writing and what you want to accomplish with it.
7. Keep a notebook of ideas. Some of my best ideas come to me at the most inconvenient times—like when I’m driving, cooking dinner, or riding bikes with my family. In other words—during those moments when I can’t run to my computer and start typing endlessly. Often my next available block of time to write is hours or even days away. That’s when it’s vital to keep a notebook of ideas, so you can jot down the thoughts and inspirations as they come—and give them proper attention when you get the chance.
Of course your tool doesn’t have to be a notebook, exactly. If you prefer something higher tech, keep a notes app on your phone or a running log of voice messages to yourself. The benefit of doing this is twofold: you won’t forget your strokes of brilliance, and, when it’s time to write again, you’ll already have a list of ideas to begin working on, so writer’s block will not be an issue.
8. Write 500 words a day. Harvest House editor Kathleen Kerr says that if you write just 500 words a day for 100 days, you’ll have a 50,000-word book in just over three months. Seems do-able, right?
You don’t need to produce an entire project in a day. Little by little, one chunk at a time, by making writing a habit and a craft, you can very feasibly accomplish a big writing goal—a book, an e-book, a script, a website, an email funnel, a marketing campaign, whatever you’re working toward. It can happen.
Want more writing tips like this one? Check out my new online course, Write Like a Pro.
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