How to Find the Time

Here's a question you might think or hear about a lot: how do I/you find the time to write?

A person who are either not understanding enough or simply echoing the things they've heard might say "you just make time". Or, you know, they've answered this question so many times it is the thing taking away from their writing time. It can be either of these things, really.

My short answer is that you have to manage your time and make sure to include writing time. All in all, a fancier way to say "make time". Why? Because the bottom line is just that, and that's why so many people are saying it.

Now, onto the longer, hopefully more helpful answer.

Step one is to realize that you need to adapt your writing to your life, and that sometimes writing isn't going to make it onto the priority of that day or week, or even month. You have to come to terms with that. If you aren't a full-time author who can make it on the money their writing pulls in, writing might have to take the backseat sometimes.

Step two is to take a week and identify your habits. When you know when you're usually done with work/school or other activities you know when you can schedule some downtime with your writing, or you know when you have spots where you can cut time from other things, and so on.

Step three is to plan writing time into the previous mentioned gaps in your schedule. Be honest with yourself. What activities are you willing to cut down on in order the increase the time you have for writing? Perhaps you can multitask certain things (for example, when you're doing laundry)?

Step four is to sit down and write. Don't kick yourself too hard if you find yourself slipping after a week of diligent writing. It's normal that things break your pace, but the most important thing is that you try to get back to it when you have time. Please keep in mind that you don't have to set aside three hours at the time, unless you want to and feel that is something you can achieve. Fifteen minutes here and there works as well, if it's how you can get your writing done. Some people seem to be able to manage a bi-weekly writing binge as well, so just take a while and figure out what you can manage.

It’s during this step that many find themselves struggling as well, so here are some tips from the community on different ways to approach the task:

  • Start small. Write on a post-it note or an index card to avoid the pressure but still getting the words in.

  • Write the first thing you do in the day. Before you check your phone or turn on the TV, or pick up a book.

  • Even one sentence a day is better than nothing.

  • Make sure to figure out what works for you. Have a daily goal, or not. Write everything in one go, or write it in sprints.

Step five is to repeat. It's extremely rare to immediately find the way that works for you, so if you try one way for a month and find that it doesn't work, then you'll have to start over and try a different pattern and so on. Some writers spend years trying to figure out how they work, so don't be discouraged if it takes some time.

Those are the basic steps. Personally, my writing have had to take a backseat to financial and mental health reasons. When that eases up my writing naturally takes a bigger place. I know this because this has happened a few times before, it coming and going in waves. I've heard countless people say that you have to write every day, and that's great if your life allows for it, but that's not the case for everyone. Sometimes you have to focus on getting your paycheck or study for a test, and that's just how it is.

While it’s important to write as often as you can, for the sake of your craft and progress, you should also take that with a grain of salt. We start writing because we love it, but nothing we love can be allowed to continue if we must sacrifice our health and well-being to do it.

Do you have any tips for people struggling with finding the time? Or did these tips help you along the way?