I’m talking about time for writing. There’s never enough, is there? As a part-time writing tutor, “I haven’t had time,” is the excuse I hear most often when students turn up empty-handed (but I use it myself, so I do have some sympathy!).
Of course, we don’t really mean we haven’t had time: we mean we haven’t made time. What can we do to find more time to write? These are some ideas that (more or less!) work for me:
* Turn off the tele’. Nothing bites into your writing time like goggle-boxing!
* Carry a notebook everywhere so you can write if you’re hanging around, delayed or waiting (at the doctors, airport, the school gates…?)
* Can you do with less sleep? Could you write for an hour in the morning or half an hour at night, when everyone else is still in bed? [This is a toughy, I know, but on the odd occasion that I’ve tried it, I’ve been pretty productive at 6am! Oh, and half asleep at my desk by 3 O’clock…]
* Decide how many hours writing you can realistically manage in a week, then get your diary out and make appointments with yourself to write. (And stick to them!)
* If you work, have you considered reducing your hours? Do your sums first, to make sure you can afford it (and don’t assume you’ll earn anything from writing!). Even half a day a week could make a big difference. Top tip: if you do manage to claw back that time, protect it! Tell no-one! Friends and family, well-meaning though they can be, will think you are ‘on holiday’ if you tell them you’re not working. Before you know it (and this has happened to me!) you’ll be treating that day off as part of your weekend, rather than proper, focussed writing time.
* Decide what you’re going to give up. Because, to be brutal, if you really want to write, that’s what you’re going to have to do. An episode (or two?) of Coronation Street? That lie-in on Saturday mornings?
* If you work and you have a lunch break, why not use it to write? Take your own sandwiches so you don’t waste time queuing up in the shops.
* Think of the tasks you have to do that are stopping you from writing. Could you delegate, bribe or pay someone else to do any of them? (eg: getting your big weekly shop delivered from one of the supermarkets costs £5 but could save you 2 hours).
* Can you take public transport rather than the car? You can get a lot of writing or reading done on a train journey.
* Don’t think you need a big block of time and your PC in order to write. Ten minutes here and there soon adds up, so try to train yourself to ‘think small’ and snatch time whenever -and wherever – you can.
Let me know if you’ve got any other ideas for making time for writing!