It isn’t easy for me to find time to write. Like most people, I have a lot to juggle in my life, appointments for my kids, my husband, and me. There’s also homeschooling 2 daughters and keeping my oldest on track as she begins college as a commuter, church activities, housework, cooking, speaking engagements, and my part-time real estate business.
I could go on, but the fact is, I’m no busier than anyone else. We all have 24 hours a day, and we all find ways to fill those hours. How we fill those hours makes the difference between getting our goals accomplished and getting a higher score on Space Invaders. Did I just reveal how old I am?
Ways to find time to write:
It’s important to have an environment free of distractions and conducive to writing. I have a small home office which doubles as a storage room (It’s where we throw all of our stuff that doesn’t have a place). I have a desk where I keep all of my notes, research materials, and my laptop. While I drag my laptop all over the house, at the end of each day, it is on the desk, plugged in, waiting for me the next morning.
Make it a priority. Aside from spiritual disciplines such as prayer and Scripture reading, your goal comes first. My goal is writing, so it’s a priority. Every night, I look at my planner to see what the next day looks like. It’s best to find time to write as early in the day as possible. That way you know it will get done. I have to write it into my planner with a specific time, just like any other appointment. This makes it a priority. This assures that the business of each day doesn’t push out my writing time.
If you are familiar with SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Time-Bound), and you should be, this suggestion is in regards to the measurable aspect of your writing goal. Set a minimum number of words, pages, or chapters, for each day. Many writers set 500 words as a minimum. That’s easy to achieve, and once you have, you’ll be on a roll, heading toward 1000. When I wrote the first draft of a mystery novel I have on hold, I set the bar at 2500 words each day. Many days I exceeded that. I had the rough draft done in a month. Environment played a big role in being able to achieve that goal since I closed the door to my office and didn’t let anything distract me. This brings us to…
Distractions on the Internet
Social Media is a major distraction to most writers since the very tool most of them use, the computer, is connected to the World Wide Web. There are lots of great apps and tools you can use to lock your internet down for a specific length of time. When the internet became a distraction for my kids, who do their homeschooling online, I purchased Freedom, an app that blocks the internet for as long as you want.
Distractions from Noise/Sounds
Turn your phone onto Do Not Disturb mode. Either wear earplugs, noise-canceling headphones, or earbuds connected to white noise, pink noise, or music without lyrics. These things can all help to create a bubble that helps you to focus without the distractions that are beyond your control caused by the everyday noise around you.
Distractions from Your Loved Ones
Other distractions such as family needs, can be harder to balance due to our strong desire to meet the needs of our loved ones. When I write at a more intense level, such as when I wrote my mystery last fall, I had a short family meeting and explained the reason I needed to have time to write undisturbed.
I laid out their options such as rules to answer their questions.
“We will eat at these times. No, you can’t have a snack within an hour window of those times. You want to ride your bike? If your room is clean, you can. If it isn’t you can’t. You sliced your finger off? Okay. Then you can disturb me.” If my office door is closed, then everyone knows that I’m writing and unless it’s an emergency, I should be undisturbed. It helps to let people know when you will be available. Kids, spouses, and friends are far more patient if they know that you will be available in 30 minutes rather than some unknown time in the future.
Take a Break to find time to write
Take a break each hour to let your family know you are still alive. You can take care of your personal needs and get a glass of water. Take a short walk to stretch your legs and get your body moving. This can actually increase the flow of creativity. You will be more apt to see things from other angles by adding a little time outdoors to your writing routine. It will also help you stay healthier in the long run.
Writing, like any other activity, can become a habit. Once you get started, it is frustrating to have to stop. So along with all of these suggestions, just make yourself get started. I’ve heard several ideas, ranging from stopping mid-sentence, so that the next day you have a place to start your thoughts, to beginning your writing day by writing whatever comes to your mind for a set period of time. Writing prompts are also popular. As for me, I tend to have several projects to work on in any given day. So, I choose the one that suits me and the rest fall into place.
Ultimately, if you make whatever your goal is a priority, you will make the time to accomplish it.
Sometimes it’s good to take a “digital break.”
That’s what I’m going to be doing in the month of January. I’ve noticed that lately it’s been hard to find time to write, so rather than spending time on email, social media, and other online activities; I will be writing and reconnecting with my goals for 2018. You will still see weekly blog posts on Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, because I have already written them and will post them automatically, using a scheduler. Even though I may not respond to your comments right away, I will read them and appreciate them greatly. Since I won’t be sharing my posts to social media in January I would appreciate it if those of you who use social media would share my posts. Thank you!
What are YOUR thoughts?
I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!
I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.
My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available at Amazon.com.
I also blog about living with cancer at, Facing Cancer with Grace.