How do you find time to write?

A common question authors are asked is, “How do you find time to write?” Many people can’t fathom how we can write a novel with everything else that goes on in our lives. My answer to this question is, I make time to write.

When I first began writing I was working full-time, and I wondered whether I would ever actually finish a book. I tried a few things in order to pinch those minutes or hours to write: Tuesday nights my husband played basketball so I declared the evening my writing evening. If he had a bye I didn’t care – it was my time to write and he had to amuse himself (which he easily did!) I also tried to grab half a day on the weekend for writing as well. In the early days I said “no” a lot. No, I can’t go out on the boat; No, I can’t have coffee; No, I can’t catch up. If I had writing planned, and you asked me out somewhere, it was an automatic no. It didn’t take long for friends and family to realise I was serious about this writing gig.

Then I was fortunate enough to work for a company who did a 9-day fortnight, which meant every second Friday was a day off. You guessed it, I’d get up early, start writing and write all day. It wasn’t a day off for me.

Still I felt like it was taking way too long to finish a novel – nine months or more. I decided to get up early. So at 5.30 am every week day, my alarm would go off and I’d get up and write for an hour or so before I went to work. Some days were fantastic and I’d write 1000 words, and other days it would only be 100, but the main point was I was getting words written every day. The story would be fresh in my head so it didn’t take long for me to get right back into it.

These days I’m fortunate enough to be writing full-time. I’m usually at the computer by 8.30am and I work until 5ish. If I’m working on a first draft, I try to get 4000 words written per day. My aim is to get a first draft completed in 4-6 weeks which is pretty quick for an 80,000 word novel. If I’m editing, I try for three or four chapters. Then of course there’s all the other bits and pieces an author needs to do: promotion, marketing, networking etc. I schedule in what I want to achieve each week and work through it until I’m done.

So if you’re struggling to find time to write, try a few different options and see what works for you. If you’re not a morning person, stay up at night after everyone has gone to bed. If you’re a taxi driver for your kids, take a notebook to jot down plot ideas while you’re waiting for them. If your workplace is flexible, see if you can change your hours maybe by working an extra hour a day and taking a day off later in the week. Ask yourself if you really enjoy all those TV shows you watch, or whether there’s a couple you wouldn’t miss.

If you want to be a writer, then you make time to write.