The biggest reason I hear would-be writers give for why they don’t write is “I don’t have time.” The secret of time is that we can make time for writing.
Earlier this year I Interviewed Seth Greenwald for Legal Nurse Podcast. He wrote his book while commuting back and forth from Long Island to New York.
Given an undistracted 45 minute a day, 5 days a week, what could you accomplish?
Keep a Record
We all waste time, if we define waste as spending time on activities that don’t contribute to our goals. When we write down where our time goes, we can find large pockets of it that we can turn into value.
Here are some time wasters in my life: Facebook and YouTube. I can easily lose an hour watching videos on Facebook. And I love to watch YouTube videos of snowy car accidents and of other kinds of accidents. My husband watches old and new Star Trek episodes on YouTube.
If you are serious about wanting to find time to write, you’ll look at how you waste time. When you look on the Internet, you find a wide variety of apps that you can use to record your time. I know people who swear by the app method.
If you don’t like using apps or who have too many already, you can also use the old-fashioned method of a notebook and a pen. I know this is primitive, but it works. Get a notebook that you can carry with you. Keep it near you at all times.
If it works for you, you can supplement notebook activity with a record on your computer that uses a program like Excel. This is also a good way to record your activities at the end of the day.
Everyone’s day is different. Some common categories might include:
- Cooking and Eating
- House Cleaning
- Helping Kids with Homework
- Family Time
- Social Media
If you spend 8-10 hours a day commuting and working, break that time down into distinct activities. I’m not recommending that you steal work time to write, although you can use your lunch hour. Also, you may find it insightful to see what you do in the course of a work day.
Be honest about the time spent that you might prefer not to record, like Internet time, including social media, emailing, gaming, or anything else you spend time on. Write it down.
Some people recommend writing time down every 15 minutes, but I think that’s a good way to defeat the program. I suggest instead writing down time spent when you’re about to change activities. If you spent 30 minutes cleaning house, write that down before you start to cook dinner.
The Review to Find Time for Writing
Do this for a week. Make sure you choose a typical week. Add up your totals for each category. Look over the totals, and ask yourself where you can save time. How can you moderate your wasted time so you can use that time for writing?
Then ask yourself if you’re willing to do that. This may be the measure of how much you want to write. Is it more important than Twitter? Or watching TV or videos?
Can you find half-an-hour a day? That’s enough for a beginning. Make that time as sacred as you make anything in your life.
If you have a family, tell them you won’t be available for that time. You won’t be answering the phone or doing anything but writing.
Then go into whatever room you’ve assigned as your writing space and write. Write anything, just to get yourself into the habit. If you write on your computer, do not take a Facebook break. Write.
As with any change in routine, it may take you time to get used to doing this, but if you persist, you’ll be glad you did. And who knows what else might result from your keeping a promise to yourself to find time for writing?
Pat Iyer is an editor, author, book coach and ghostwriter who helps individuals create books that allow their expertise to shine and advance their businesses. She has written or edited 48 books.