how to find time for writing

This seems to be one of those topics that never goes away.

You may say that it’s easy for me to talk about this since I have lots of time for writing, but that wasn’t always so. I wrote my three non-fiction books at the time I was employed full-time and had three preschoolers. So let me share a few thoughts about it.

The first one is going to be a no-brainer: do you really want to write? Because it takes time, a lot of time, for which you’ll receive little reward, which will have you cut off from your family and social activities. For this reason, I never wrote fiction when my kids were little, because I know writing fiction takes you off into lala land, and you want to be consciously there when your kids are small.

Once you have decided it’s what you’d really like to do in your leisure time, you have to find time for it. More likely, you’ll have to make time for it.

Schedule your day. Set aside fixed writing time. Make sure those kiddies are in bed by eight and no buts (their peace of mind will thank you for that, too – most little kiddies thrive under strict scheduling, but that’s another discussion point), and then write. Don’t fiddle on the internet, write.

Be creative with your time. You spend an hour on public transport every day? Write or plan your writing on the train or bus, so that when you get to your computer later that day, you can crank out the words more efficiently. Forego the office lunch a few times a week so you can write. What spare time is there in your day that you’re not doing anything productive, but which you can turn into writing time?

Phase out peripheral stuff. You’ll probably find that other activities encroach on that important leisure time. Decide which of those activites matter to you. Especially things like TV and computer games can eat up time at some incredible rate. Switch off that damn tv (as for me, we don’t even have tv, and I don’t play computer games, but that’s because they don’t interest me. If you like them, schedule your time).

Decide what’s important. Family time, obviously, but how important is it really that you stand at the sidelines of all your three daughters’ netball matches? Could you perhaps pool with another parent (hint: your partner!). How much do you really gain from participating in the school mum’s gossip circuit? Sure, keep your best friends, but cull some of the others.

Another no-brainer: frankly, I have never visited the house of an interesting person and found it immaculate and spotlessly clean. Interesting people have books, plants, knick-knacks, computers, musical instruments, etc, and they rather use those items than spend time arranging them (dust-free) on shelves. Stop obsessing over housework. Be frank to yourself: who is going to notice the pile of shoes in the hall except you? If the answer is ‘no one I care about’, then the problem is with you.

If you’ve reached the end of this post, and keep wanting to say ‘but…’ and give excuses, then I refer you back to my first point: do you really want to write? Writing takes a lot of time. No ifs, no buts.