How to find time to write

January 18, 2014 |  by  |  Live life fully  |  , , ,

find timeNo matter our gender, age, or socio-economic status, we’re all granted the same daily salary in minutes and hours. When’s the last time you did something you truly, completely love to do? For me, writing is a high thrill. Stringing words together in fresh ways gives me a rush. It’s my creative outlet, it’s my sanity.  All that being said, the title of this post deserves a question mark more than an authoritative colon.

I’ll admit, this post is mostly for me. For someone who really is “delighted to write,” I confess I keep struggling to make time for it. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the daily minutiae, while my lists of writing ideas sadly stack up on my desk, waiting for me to give them legs. Granted, working full-time, finishing a master’s thesis, and being 37 weeks pregnant does take a toll on a person. But I hope to live my life making time for the people I love and and doing things I truly love to do. As I’ve thought lately about how I hope I’ll use my time as a mom, these are ideas on how I’ll keep my writing aspirations alive:

Keep a notepad nearby.

A couple months ago I heard NPR’s classic Diane Rehm interview best-selling author John Grisham about his new book. It struck me how he wrote the entire manuscript on legal pads through handwritten snatches of inspiration. It took him three years. He enjoyed the process so much, he was reluctant to hand it over to publishers. Lesson learned? Be ready to capture ideas as they come.

Close all browsers.

With a bachelor’s degree and (soon to be) graduate degree in communication, I consider myself an educated media consumer. Yet I still get sidetracked by email notifications, social media updates, and other Internet traps. I’m fully aware content is designed to pull one in, and have still been a willing victim to virtual distraction. In William Powers’ life-changing book, “Hamlet’s Blackberry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age,” he points out “unnecessary interruptions and consequent recovery time now eat up an average of 28 percent of the working day.” He adds:

Unlike computers, when we switch tasks – either by choice or because we’re suddenly interrupted – it takes time for our minds to surface and focus on the interruption, and then still more time to return to the original task and refocus on that. (p. 58)

I’m going to do a better job of closing all other browsers and limit my computer’s power to distract me when I write.

Set the smartphone aside.

My smartphone both liberates and imprisons my time. Sure, I have access to the world’s knowledge in the palm of my hand, but it’s alarming how much time I waste  checking out social feeds, app updates, etc. My “only two minutes” on Instagram turns into 20, and my days get eaten away. I do see great value in keeping in touch with people, but recognize the need for self-discipline. When I’m writing (like now), my thoughts can’t flow through my fingers if they’re busy texting. The phone can wait.

Pick a time and stick to it.

I’m willing to give others appointments of my time; why not myself? Sure, some days are more time-committed than others (I’ve avoided the term “busy,” ever since I read this NYT article), but I can have semi-weekly times reserved for me. I featured my writing friend, Amy Wilde, who wrote her entire memoir in the hours after her children went to sleep. She dedicated that time to writing, and now has an inspiring book published.

How do YOU find time to write (or whatever else it is you love)?



  1. I love to write all the time. That is a very easy task for me. What gives me thrill though is creating not just words but poetry; a short story……something that comes together very well. Another thing that gets me is creation via painting or drawing. It’s like writing without using the words. If the art is perfect and to me it takes longer because I don’t want to put anything out there that’s not perfect in my eyes.

    Another thing that is a form of writing to me is playing my conga’s. Yes I am a musician and I play every Sunday at church and its a welcome sound and feeling you get when you are playing with a band and you have the choir singing exactly what we as musicians are playing is, exactly words in motion.

    • Barbara, wonderful to hear you’re consistently writing! Good for you, and bonus points for playing the congas. I like to freestyle on the piano and you’re right – music lets that creative energy flow.

      You’d like the quote from my earlier post, “Isn’t it funny the way some combinations of words can give you, almost apart from their meaning, a thrill like music?”

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