Thursday, September 01, 2011

WrAHM: Find the time

One thing I hear over and over from writers is that they don't have any spare time to write.  It seems like the demands of jobs, children, domestic duties, and social life leave little by the way of extra hours in the day.  So what's an aspiring, unpaid writer to do?  Give up sleep?  Quit their job?

Now I'm the type of person that needs a certain amount of sleep so as not be a total jerk all day, and it's just not in the cards for most of to quit our jobs.  And hey, stay-at-home moms, you have jobs.  Heck, I'm a stay-at-home mom and sometimes I fantasize about getting a job just to have writing time.  I had a friend who did Nano at work last year and he was done in a week!  A week!  Get me an application.

But I digress.  How do you find the time?  I usually say you have to make the time.  You have to prioritize writing.  But that's kind of like telling a hungry man to catch a fish.  It might be more beneficial to teach him to fish, no?  Some of you know how to fish just fine, I'm sure, and yet I still here the 'I don't have time' excuse.  So here are a few exercises to help you find the time to work.

1.  Every evening ( or in the morning), make a schedule of what you did that day.  Write down what time you got up, when you ate, when you worked, watched tv, ran to the store, blogged, checked Facebook, played with kids, etc.  Make sure you note what you were doing every hour of the day.  Do this for a week.  Now look at this timeline and figure out where you used your downtime.  Did you watch an hour of tv a night?  That's seven hours a week.  Could you spend five of them writing instead?  Did you read a book?  Could you have worked on writing one instead?  Don't think of it as sacrifice, just adjustment.

2.  Could you sneak in half an hour before bedtime?  I know the period between kids falling asleep and me going to bed is precious.  I don't want to work.  I want to bask in the pure quiet of the house like the over-stimulated, on-edge mom I am, but I could probably find half an hour to write instead.  Likewise, you could get up an hour earlier and write in a sleeping house.  The trick to this is not dawdle but to just start writing.  Don't over think it.

3.  Consider doing NaNoWriMo.  If you are highly competitive person, as I am, racing to the finish line of a monthly challenge might be your ticket.  Plus there's a handy word count stat on your page, and nothing feels better than updating it and see that number rise.  Nano is great because it forces you to write everyday if you want to reach your goal, thus creating a writing habit.

4.  Schedule your time.  Make a set writing schedule, and stick to it.  Next to my husband's weekly schedule is my writing schedule and he'll often call from work to double check when I am scheduled to work, so he can be home with the kids.  I won't lie.  Sometimes I skip work, but we try very hard to stick to my schedule on a weekly basis.  The more seriously you take your writing schedule, the more writing will become an accepted way of life in your home.

So what's your secret to finding time to write?


  1. Great advice! I usually find that getting up before my kids do is the best way to ensure writing gets done. (And I have a strict no-internet-during-writing rule, which is absolutely necessary!)

  2. Ooh, great ideas!

    Myself, I tend to be mentally dead after the kids go to bed. I wake up at 4:00 in the morning and that time is SACRED. David doesn't let the kids bother me from 4-6 every morning for anything.

  3. All of your points are great. I especially like the one where you have your writing schedule next to your husband's work schedule. Writing is work. Writing is a job. It is fantastic that your husband supports you in this way. :)

  4. I feel very lucky!

    I'm too braindead in the morning to write, but just secured preschool for the kiddos so I'll be writing full-time now! Very excited and a bit nervous.

  5. Thanks for sharing this. I need to prioritize and cut down on the Internet since I'm already squeezing in writing between working full time and family.

  6. Sitting down and doing it. The truth is we make time for what we care about. I've given up a lot to write, and that's also a fact. I agree that schedules help a lot, and then also be sure to be flexible in case your family (or something else important) comes up.

  7. This is fabulous, and useful, advice for writing moms, working or not. I work from home and have a 2 year old, so I have to schedule my time carefully to get in the writing time I need. I make sure writing is a priority, or it doesn't get done.