How to find the time to write: Four steps to help you write more often

A pink alarm clock beside an open laptop.

It can be hard to find the time for writing. It does not matter whether you have a busy schedule or all the time in the world. Sitting down to write regularly can still be difficult.

I am not going to tell you to wait for motivation or how to clear a large chunk of time in your calendar. Neither of these things are required to find time to write. Often, they are an easy excuse for not writing. I am not here for excuses. I am here to help you get past the blocks and get words on the page.

Waiting for motivation often means you never write. Motivation is dependent on the correct amount of energy levels, relaxation levels, mental capacity and then time. Waiting is not how you find the time to write.

I hope you are reading this because you enjoy writing. I believe that spending time on what you enjoy enhances your life. If your 9 to 5 is a means to a paycheck then having an activity outside of that can give your life extra meaning. 

My Experience

My nine to five is teaching. This means it is also an eight to eleven some nights. Saturday can often end up being another workday. There are always classes to prepare, assignments to correct and paperwork to fill in. This is the physical part of the job that is easily seen.

Mentally, I also carry work around with me in how I worried about students or made sure that I was presenting the information in a way that met the needs of this year’s group.

Including writing in my week gave me a different focus. It is also part of my self-care routine. I only realized this when my husband was able to tell if I had been doing schoolwork or writing. Whenever I was writing I was more relaxed and ready to take part in activities. For self-care I always use journaling. I use it like a diary where I vent and readability isn’t a consideration. But worldbuilding for my novel and being creative also make me feel lighter and more positive.

Journaling is self care. Girl sitting in long grass with a pen and notebook. When you are struggling with how to find the time to write journaling can help.
When you are struggling with how to find the time to write journaling about it can help.

You Deserve to Write

So if you need someone to give you permission then I absolutely give you permission. I held back because I thought it was too indulgent. I thought a mother of young children shouldn’t spend time on frivolous things. Good parents should always use their time constructively. But this thinking cost me energy and drained me dry. 

When I am tired after writing I still enjoy spending time with my children. They get all of my attention and I’m happy to join in with their latest creations whether that’s Lego or Minecraft. I feel a sense of achievement and accomplishment after writing. Even if I have not gotten as much written as I wanted to. 

Working smarter not harder to when you are trying to figure out how to find the time to write

The phrase life is short is used a lot. But I have had seasons of my life where I felt every minute. The day and night took forever to end. We should fill our time in a way that makes us feel like it’s running out. But on our terms. I was spending a long time on class preparation because I was sacrificing time spent on my writing. 

But when I stopped compromising I became smarter about work time. Especially when writing is my reward. The preparation still gets done but now I am fresher and more energetic for my students because I also do what I enjoy.

Map out your Day

The work expands to fill the time available. So if you tell yourself or others that you don’t have the time take a look at how you spend your day.

What is important to you?

What makes you feel better?

What helps you to relax? 

To make time for writing I sacrificed social media. But I still find time for reading because it fills my creative well and informs me about my genre. When I started this blog I started to use Instagram again. But I put a timer on how long I spend using it and I try to only look at it when I have a specific purpose.

Where does your time go?

Start with being aware as you go through your day. When I did this I got frustrated with the amount of time I spent picking stuff up and tidying things away. So I invested time in decluttering and giving everything a place. Now I spend a lot less time tidying and the other people in my house are in a better position to tidy away their own things.

Evaluate if you are enjoying what you are doing or is it just a habit. Do you enjoy being on social media on your phone or would you benefit more from writing? If you are commuting and can’t physically write, can you read about it, listen to a podcast, watch YouTube videos or even join a writing Facebook group so part of your social media feed is now about writing.

Change your Mindset around finding time to write

Do you know why you find it difficult to sit down and write?

Does sitting down to write put you under pressure to produce something ready to be published?

Remember, every well-known writer started somewhere. Brandon Sanderson wrote thirteen novels before he was published. If you ever want to be published you have to start writing the unpublishable stuff first.

Use visualisation to help you. When you are at work, in the car or even still in bed, picture yourself at peace when you sit down to write. Practise it in your brain first so that when you physically move into the space to write it will not feel brand new.

I use the affirmation ‘I deserve to write’. Saying this out loud regularly helped me to prioritise writing in my day. 

Give yourself Grace

If you are new to sitting down to write or if you have not done it in a while it will take time to build the habit. If your goal is to just sit at the desk then celebrate when you achieve that. Any words that you write are a bonus. 

Start with small writing goals

This can be a small word count of 500 or 5 words. Sitting at the desk or laptop for 50 minutes or 5 minutes. Writing once a day or once a week. You can decide on what is an achievable goal for you.

Starting small sets you up for a win. Humans develop habits easier when we can see ourselves achieving and progressing. Doing a five-hour writing session once a week can get a lot done but an unproductive five hours can leave you feeling worthless and drained of energy. Small steps are energising and are all about positive reinforcement. If you feel that anything shorter than five hours or 5,000 words is not worth doing and you can regularly achieve that then this blog post is not for you. But if you are struggling to find the time or reach that high word count then you need a different approach. Surely, five minutes of writing should be easier than five hours?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step Lao Tzu.
Finding time to write starts with small goals.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Finding time to write starts with small goals.

Thoughts to eliminate about starting to write

At no stage when you are just starting do you expect to produce amazing writing. Being happy with what you write is a bonus. Journaling works for me as a warm-up because I know I am never going to show it to anybody but also nobody is going to expect to read it either. 

Allow the people in your life to celebrate your wins with you but this is not the time for them to read what you have written. If they want to support you then they can google ‘What makes a good Beta reader’ so that they can be ready to give proper feedback when you are ready with a completed manuscript.

Action Steps to help you figure out how to find the time to write

Focus on one part of the process at a time. You might not need every bit of advice in this blog post. Start with something you have not tried before. Find out if it works and then move on to the next suggestion.

Map out your day to find out what is a priority and what can be changed.

Evaluate your activities and decide if writing can replace any of them.

Change your mindset around making time for writing. Visualisations and affirmations can be helpful here. The most important part of this step is to give yourself grace. Be kind to yourself.

Start small. Small steps can still cover large spaces. Slow and steady wins the race every time.

If you want to write then you have to make choices that allow you time to write. Nobody else is going to make you write.

More reading on Building a Writing Routine

How to use other writer’s routines as inspiration for your own

The comprehensive guide to finding time to write

12 quotes to inspire you to write

Writing during the summer

How to build your writing routine in 5 days

Building a consistent writing routine for beginners. Start writing today.

Setting up your productive and inspiring writing space

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