Waking up this morning, you had every intention in the bright new day of writing after work. You've made notes throughout the afternoon and the prospect of pounding them out on your keyboard kept you motivated to trudge on.
Then life happened: Your spouse can't pick up the kids, a co-worker left early handing you their share of the load, your boss asks if the latest project he gave you yesterday is finished. Heartburn warms up and your head pounds. Something has to give way as reality sets in. You determine, as usual, that something is your writing time.
Any of this sound familiar? Welcome to life! Whether you write for hobby and relaxation, or goals and achievement, all of us at one time or another face the challenge of creating time to sit and write. How can we create a schedule when so many other things take priority?
I'm going to offer ten simple ideas that will help squeeze writing into your crazy schedules. (if you have time saving ideas, please share them!)
1. Plan quick and easy dinners. Crock-pots are an absolute must for the time saver! Throw in all the ingredients turn it on low and come home to an aroma filled home that will provide an immediate dinner. On days off or non-writing nights, make extra food that can freeze for use later in the week.
2. Adhere to a writing schedule. Treat your writing time like you would a doctor's appointment. For example, say you plan to write every evening from 7 PM – 10 PM. Letting your friends and family know that time is off-limits will help you commit to a specified writing schedule. They'll know you're available before or after, but either way they'll take your writing time as serious as you do.
a) Keep your idea journal next to you and write them all in one place, so you don't go searching for that napkin from lunch you scribbled on.
b) Always keep your writing space and accessories easily accessible. Don't waste your precious scheduled time digging around for a needed file. Try to keep it all in one place.
c) Establish a routine so everything surrounding your writing time is streamlined and efficient.
4. Days off. If you have to miss a few days from writing, don't beat yourself up about it and get discouraged. Use the time to your advantage by planning a more intense writing session. Then instead of feeling bad about not writing, you can feel good knowing that you made the best of a less than ideal situation.
5. Make writing a priority. When you leave your writing time as an option for time usage, you'll rarely find time to write. If you don't let your family, friends, and fellow employees know that your writing time is a priorty, they won't treat it as one—and won't hesitate to infringe upon it.
6. Your daily schedule. To free up time to write, wake up an hour earlier. Use that time to get a jump on your daily chores, or head into work early to get ahead of the game. If you're a morning person, write! The advantages include a calm sense of being before the family starts the AM jitterbug; reduced exterior noises (cars, lawnmowers, etc.); and the satisfaction of knowing you've done your writing no matter what else comes into your day.
7. Negotiate with family and friends. Trade favors for writing time! Tell your spouse if he'll watch the kids for a few hours three days a week, you'll take over on the weekends so he can play golf or hang with the boys. Tell friends you'll watch their kids for a few hours over the weekend, if they'll watch yours one night after work.
8. Get help. Since your objective is to find time blocks for writing—which translates into hours—think about what takes those blocks away from your day, then wrangle a way for someone else to handle them. For instance, bring your lunch to work every day, and apply the money you save toward hiring a twice monthly house cleaning service. If you're a stay at home mom with little kids, hire a "mother's helper" (a 12 to 15 year old) for a few hours. They cost less than a regular sitter and you'll be there just in case of a meltdown.
10. Writing time is quality time. There's a limited time to write, so minimize those gab sessions on instant messaging and Facebook. Make the decision to catch up on email later. All that socializing eats up your valuable time. And we writers have our priorities!
What are some of the issues you face, and what advice can you offer others?