5 Steps for Making Time to Write

How do you find time to write?

I suspect any author or regular contributor to web sites or other publications get this question. I do with some frequency. Lots of people love the idea of writing, but the reality of it stymies them. By the time they’ve added up work, family, hobbies, naps, and Netflix writing is still just an idea. So what does it take to make time to write regularly? Here’s my list.

1) Prioritize

How much do you really want to write and what will you give up to do it? How important is writing to you? How much will eat at you when you lie down for bed another day without having put words to paper? If it is important you will do it. And when you decide to do it you will find things in life that can be moved down the hierarchy. Some things can’t be moved – your spouse, your children, your church, your work (though maybe those 9 PM emails aren’t really necessary). Other things absolutely can be, whether you’ve considered it or not. This will lead to tough decisions, and that is when you must . . .

2) Sacrifice Something

You don’t make time. Time is as it has ever been. You simply choose what you will give up in order to write. Something must die on the altar of composition. If it’s not worth it to kill something off then you won’t write. What will be hurt by giving up TV and Facebook and video games? It’s relatively easy to sacrifice sleep too. I don’t mean easy as in “this is great!” I mean easy as in guilt-free. Stay up an hour later. Get up 30 minutes earlier. It won’t kill you. Trust me. And trust coffee.

3) Use your Gaps

The best writing is done in chunks of time, an hour or three or seven. But you can accomplish a great deal with thirty minutes here and a boring meeting there. Outline your next article. Jot down ideas. Redeem your day dreaming and put that mind to use! Review something you wrote recently. You can compile a lot of little pieces of writing, editing, and idea generation in the small spaces of life.

4) Collect Ideas

Writing starts with ideas. If you’ve decided to carve out the time what will you write? You need a repository of ideas readily at hand. Use Evernote or a Moleskine or something. Make that your junk drawer of ideas, the place you throw odds and ends you might one day use. Go back to it periodically and see what looks interesting. Rummage through it when you sit down to write. In fact, that’s how I landed on writing this post. I dropped the idea in Evernote a few months ago, added a point here and there, and then this week it was the sparkly bauble that caught my eye from the junk drawer.

5) Do One Thing Per Day Every Day

I owe this idea directly to Stephen Altrogge and his excellent little book, Create. When I read this idea it stuck, and I have worked hard to put it into practice since. My productivity and output has increased in volume and steadiness since. Each day, no matter how busy, I do something to further my writing. Some days I write a short post. Some days I jot down three ideas. Other days I crank out 4,000 words for a book. And yet other days I simply soak in the brilliant writing of others. No matter what the thing is, though, it is intentional and tied directly to my own writing. The net effect over time is tremendous.