Writing when you don’t have time to write

(A checklist to help you when you don’t have much time to read either!)

Finding time to write can be difficult, but it’s not impossible.

Ask yourself – Why do you want to write? What are you writing about? What are your goals? Who is your intended audience?

It could be that you simply want to write for your own personal enjoyment and will never share your work. That is a perfectly valid choice.

When do you get “free” time and how can you use it? Get into the routine of making writing time and sticking to it.

Write. Every. Single. Day.

Can you spare fifteen minutes a day? How about twenty? Thirty? An hour? Daily writing is better and more productive than trying to do a big chunk at the weekend. Think about how you spend your day and where you could free up some time just for yourself.

Could you get up ten minutes earlier? Could you snatch fifteen minutes at the end of the day? Also consider when you feel the most productive and least likely to be tempted to procrastinate or find your focus pulled away from you.

How many words do you want to pin down a day? A good goal is at least 2000 words to get some continued progress, but every single word you write is one more than you didn’t write yesterday.

Set yourself achievable and enjoyable goals. Remember, it can take up to thirty days for something new to become an actual habit. Exercising your creative muscles are no different to exercising your physical ones. Small steps can yield giant results.

Find yourself a space where you can write and feel comfortable in. At a desk, in the garden, in the bath or in bed. As soon as you enter your writing space, start writing. Where possible, don’t let anyone else use your writing space. Avoid distractions or the temptation to procrastinate.

How are you capturing your writing? Notebooks, tablets, mobile phone, laptops, sticky notes, or even on the backs of envelopes. Leave whiteboard markers or bath crayons in the shower. Put chalk board paint on the inside of cupboard doors, or hang whiteboards in the kitchen. Put a notebook and pen in the loo!

Consider other apps and software you can use – Dragon Dictate, Apple Dictation (free), Google Docs Voice Typing, and Evernote (free) are all speech-to-type software you can use to capture ideas on the fly.

Recognise that you are shovelling sand to make sand castles – your first pieces of writing will not be your best – the first draft is just you telling yourself the story.

Don’t delete anything. Re-write and edit and re-work things, but keep your originals. It’s good to see how far you have come and you never know if that “failed” story could become something else one day.

Progress not perfection. Finished not fabulous. Keep going and do not worry about whether it is a finished, polished piece. It just needs to be finished for that time. Editing is a whole other process, but you need to get the bones down before you can trim the flesh.

Share it and get feedback, if that is part of your goal. Be brave and put yourself out there. Criticism can be as wonderful as praise if you let it. Don’t let anyone put you down, however. Sure, you’re probably not the best writer in the world… yet!

Read a lot, and if you can’t read a lot, listen to a lot of audiobooks and inspirational podcasts. A good writer is an avid reader. Explore all genres, even those you wouldn’t normally indulge in.

Sign up to daily writing challenges or use daily writing apps to get your creativity going. Don’t wait for inspiration to arrive or until you “feel like” writing. Show up, show up, show up and eventually the muse will show up too.

Enjoy it. Every word. For it is your creation and they are your thoughts. Be proud of your achievements regardless of how big or small they are. Love your writing.

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