How Do You Find Time to Write?

I’m finishing up my masters right now from Seton Hill University and to be honest I couldn’t be happier. I’ve received both of the required “passes” from my two mentors and now it’s time to coast to January. But by no means has it been an easy road. I was talking with some friends from my undergraduate days the other day and one of them asked “How do you find the time to write?” I stopped for a moment and really had to collect my thoughts on that.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard that question. I get it from students, friends, co-workers all the time. And to be honest, it sure as hell isn’t easy. I work a full-time job at my alma-mater, Washington University in St. Louis, plus I have a two year old and a wife who I love spending time with. So yeah, to be completely frank, finding time to write is the hardest thing to work into my daily routine. But writing is my career, not my job, and I want to put the time in.

When I first started writing, I wrote whenever I felt like it. I’d get inspiration right when I got done with class and spend an hour outside writing. Or I’d be in class and be scribbling “notes” when I was actually writing a new scene. The worst times was when it’d be 1:00 am and my mind would be buzzing with ideas. I wouldn’t be able to sleep until I got out of bed and put pen to paper (I really do enjoy writing in my journal more than typing.)

The problem with writing whenever inspiration struck was that I’d often go days or weeks without writing a single word. That’s no way to work on your craft. It wasn’t until I started grad school that I got my act together and began using my time more wisely.

So you ask how do I find the time to write? Well, I use a few different methods that might help others out:

  1. Carry a journal… everywhere. This is perfect for those moments of inspiration throughout the day. When I get to work, I pull it out of my backpack and set it right next to my computer, just in case something a student says or some random thought pops into my head.
  2. Lunch Breaks are key. I get an hour for lunch every day at work. And it only takes me about twenty minutes to eat my lunch. (Thank you 15-minute high school lunches for training me to inhale my food.) So that leaves me with about 40 minutes of extra time during my lunch break. I’ve gotten so much writing done during these forty minute breaks. That’s how I’m writing this post right now.
  3. Set a certain time to write. I’m sure you’ve heard the advice that writers should write every day. I’d say that you should pick a time every day in order to write and stick to it. This primes your mind to be ready to write during those set blocks. For me, it’s about 9 to 11 or 12 every night after my son has gone to sleep and I’ve spent a little time with my wife. But others do early in the morning before they go to work. Some write as soon as they get home from their day job. It doesn’t really matter what time you pick as long as you pick a time and stick to it every day.

These are only a few suggestions. Each writer is different and should figure out what works best for them. But following this schedule, I get about 3-4 hours of writing in every day and that has really kept me going. And the more writing I have done, the easier it has been to write during these blocks and the faster new material has flowed onto the page. Hope this helps someone.

What about you guys? Does anyone else have suggestions or strategies that have worked well for them to get writing done?

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