Advice on finding time for writing
Disclaimer: Sometimes life does get in the way and you are in a situation where there is no possible way you can work on your writing, and that’s okay. In those moments it may help to keep in mind that things change and you may find time to write in the future. Also, remember to never over exert yourself and always, and I mean always, put your health before writing.
Life is busy, nothing new here, and with this busyness, it may be tricky to pinpoint when would be a good time to write. Listed below are a couple scenarios and common problems accompanied with tidbits of advice that may come in handy when working writing into your schedule.
Problem#1: “I just don’t know when is a good time to write…”
- Advice: Plan out your daily schedule with detail and see if you have any free time for writing, (don’t have a schedule, make one!)
Problem:#2 “My friend(s)/family/acquaintance wants to hang out, but I can’t tell or don’t feel comfortable telling them what I’m working on.”
-Okay, this one is admittedly tricky so here are a few options:
- Advice: tell them you’re working on something but be vague. Example: If you’re in school or work a desk job, say your working on a “writing assignment,” or “project.”
- Advice I heard: Make appointments with a client, or work buddy named“Calvin” or “Angela” This advice slims down to nicknaming your writing project and acting like you have an appointment with said writing project.
In other words, you give your project a name and say you need to talk or work with __insert project name__ . To best honest, I’ve personally never tried this method so I can’t vouch for its success rate, but I heard this from a person I deem to be a reputable writer so I’d consider trying it maybe once or twice.
This is supposed to help if you need to bail friends but don’t want to elaborate on your writing project.
- Other Advice: Simply make time to hang out with them and make time for your writing, then if you’re busy let them know you’re busy or don’t feel like hanging out with them. I feel that a real rational friend would understand and won’t pester you.
Problem#3: Writing takes too much time and effort.
- Advice: If this is a real issue for you, you need to step back and ask yourself why you’re working on the project in the first place, and what it means to you.
To be blunt, a lot of commitment goes into writing and if you can’t pour in the effort or time it takes to get through it maybe you need to reconsider things, and this isn’t coming from someone with an elitist view, this is coming from someone who also had to reflect on this before when I realized I wasn’t making the progress I wanted to on my own writing.
At this point, you have to question if writing really is worth it. If you don’t want to write, then why write?
If you do want to write then be prepared to pour in time and effort.
Problem #4: I have trouble sticking to my schedule…
- Advice: Writing an entire essay’s worth, or section, or chapter can be daunting so why not break it up.
Make a goal you want to hit, then make a plan on how you’re going to get there and track your progress.
A great part about making goals is that you can tailor make them for yourself and your writing situation.
A method could be to make small sub goals to hit like maybe you want to write 1,000 words a day, but you can only write 500. Make small gradual goals to hit a higher number like 650 and then when you hit that, aim for 720. Work your way up until you’re comfortable writing certain amounts of words a day. Remember, even a small bit of progress is still progress. With that being said, don’t go overboard as you’ll see with the next piece of advice.
- Advice: Push yourself, but not off a cliff.
Challenge yourself to write or edit more than you initially thought you could, but please, please keep in mind your mental and physical limits!
I’d suggest when challenging yourself track how much you write on a usual basis and figure out a reasonable goal you want for each day, then gradually work towards it. Try to actually beat your word count and test your strengths.
- Advice: Treat yourself.
When you reach a goal or pulled off a lot of work or progress do something you’ll enjoy. Maybe take a break, grab a snack, catch up on social media, beat a level of a game, read, draw, whatever, just do something you’ll like. (I grew up using this hack for homework and though its effectiveness admittedly varied, sometimes it worked rather well.)
Problem #5: When I do write, I can’t concentrate.
- Advice: First find out what’s causing the distraction. Is it social media? Baby sister crying in the next room? A new episode of your favorite show? Once you locate the source of your distractions you can figure out how you can best cope or deal with that distraction.
- Advice: Find a writing space. It doesn’t have to be a home office or your room. Maybe it’s at a cafe, park bench or section of a library. When you do find that space try to limit the amount of distractions you have control over and focus on writing. Once your mind associates and gets used to the space it can increase the productivity of your writing.
Problem 6: I just don’t have time…
- Advice: As I stated in the disclaimer there are situations where you can’t write or you’re on a real time crunch. If you still really want to write in these moments I’d recommend looking for odd pockets of time in your daily schedule. Like on the bus ride to work or during your lunch break.
- Advice: Make time. Sometimes you gotta give up time for other stuff to write. Whether it be giving up an hour of sleep for one night, or putting off watching your favorite show or spending a day hanging out with your friends, or maybe putting off vacuuming or mopping the kitchen.
You won’t always have perfect pockets of time dedicated to writing and you’ll have to make time for anything to happen. (Careful about that one comment about sleep though, you need your hours and you don’t want to end up a sleep-deprived zombie and that will affect your health and writing quality.)
- Advice: Get a notebook or sticky note app for those random moments where you do find yourself with pockets of time. Like waiting for your name to be called in a clinic, or waiting for class to start or your meal to arrive at a restaurant.
We do a surprising amount of waiting in our lives or tend to have a weird amount of time on our hands that comes from seemingly nowhere. When those moments pop up having a notebook or app where you can scribble down ideas or thoughts could act as a useful reference for the next time you have time to write.
Problem 7: I have writer’s block, or I can’t come up with ideas:
Advice: I’m going to hold off on this one because next week I have a lengthy post that dives into detail on this, but my general bit of advice for this issue and others listed above is to try to find out exactly what you’re having trouble with and try to figure out how to combat it. Like is your issue with the plot structure or do some ideas not connect the way you want them to? Once you narrow down exactly what you’re struggling with you can start to figure out how to solve it.
It’s hard to solve a problem when you can pinpoint what exactly that problem is. And when you do find that problem, there are more resources than ever before for writing you can access on the web on writing for free just by typing into that search bar above.
I’d also recommend to new writers to get involved with a writing community. In fact, scratch that, no matter how long you’ve been a writer I’d recommend joining or at least checking out a community. You don’t have to join one, but it can be an insightful, helpful and fun thing to try.
There are many writing communities online on various platforms with a wide array of writers, editors, authors, beta readers, etc. that are willing to exchange advice, stories, etc. These people range from experienced veterans to the young and budding newbies. Many of these communities I’ve come across have shown to be very supportive and very helpful for all writers.
Though of course with all communities a there are questionable folk, elitists, and for a lack of a better term bullies so I’d only recommend it to those okay with putting themselves out there or are willing to be social with strangers.
Finally, my last piece of advice is to above all don’t forget to put your nose to the grindstone…or keyboard…or pencil. (You get the point, get writing!)
That’s all I have on tips on this topic, (phew it was a longer post than I expected). Any writing topic you want to see me tackle in the future? Feel free to comment below or tweet at me at @SimplyMadoqua.
Until next time!