Making Time to Write

Like many writers, I am not a full-time writer. Every day I have to find time to write, and often it’s much easier to say, “I don’t have time” than it is to write. After working all day, working out, making dinner, running errands, and all the other day-to-day activities, it can be an easy rationalization to make. I have to fight this rationalization every day. Here are the ways I try to fight back.

Notebooks, notebooks, notebooks. I carry them with me at all times, and I have a variety of shapes and sizes: notebooks for my bag, notebooks for my pockets, and notebooks for side tables at home. In odd moments, I try to write down a few things every day: phrases that sound interesting, ideas that might be worth pursuing, or issues I’d like to explore or satirize. If I have a longer moment, I’ll try to outline a scene or a story (yes, I’m an outliner. I can’t write by the seat of my pants).

Virtual notebooks. Obviously this technique is related to the first. But if you’re a desk jockey like me, you probably have a tab or two open all day, whether it’s your personal e-mail, twitter, facebook, spotify, whatever. Add one more to your routine: google docs. Start a file called “Virtual notebook,” and add to it throughout the day.

Chuck Palahniuk’s Egg Timer Method. I came across this method here, and I find it useful, especially if you’re just starting to fight to make time every day to write. Start with a small window during which all you do is write. Then make it longer as you go. If you have a significant other, a small window of “alone time” might also be preferable to you have your laptop open all night, too.

Ask “What if” often. Throughout the day I come across all sorts of interesting links, whether I’m looking at rss feed, twitter, or checking my e-mail. Instead of reading the stories passively, try to read them while asking “what if” questions. If creativity is a muscle, this will be a great mental workout that should make your writing sessions easier and more productive. This is something you’ll see a lot of on this site. I’ll post a link to a story, give a brief description, and post a few ideas that came to mind. I hope we can have a bit of a conversation on this site about those articles. Please post, and I’ll reply.

How do you make the time to write? What techniques work for you? How do you keep your but in the chair and write after you’ve had a long day at work?

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