On one of my past posts, I shared a couple different ways to find time to write besides locking yourself into a room with your computer and letting your family or friends fend for themselves. I suggested exercise to give you more energy and creativity. I also mentioned finding the right time of day for writing. If you are a morning person, try to organize your day, so you do at least some writing in the morning. Here are two more tips that I use to find more time to write. (Of course all of this is out the window if I have a deadline, then I find more time to write by not sleeping and drinking coffee!)
MAKE DEALS WITH YOURSELF
Some of you may make deals with your significant other. “If you wash my car, I’ll cook your dinner.” Or your mom. “I promise I’ll be there for the family reunion if you promise not to ask about my love life.” So, why not with yourself? “If I write three pages of my novel this morning, I’ll watch my favorite reality show tonight.”
I’ve heard some writers say they have written an entire novel by writing one page or even just one paragraph a day. If you follow this plan, in a week, you would have seven more pages or seven more paragraphs than you had before, when you were complaining you didn’t have enough time to write.
Make a bargain—“I will write one page a day, even on Christmas. If I do this for three months, I will reward myself with a game at that expensive golf course.”
Sometimes, I’ll set time limits. If I write for one hour, I’ll take a nap or order an artichoke salad from my favorite Italian restaurant or call my best friend for a gossip chat. It doesn’t have to be an hour; how about twenty minutes?
Write first. Don’t say, “If I just watch this one TV show, then I’ll write for one hour.” Tape the show, finish your article, then reward yourself with the video.
LEARN TO SAY NO
There’s not much explanation to this one. Holly Miller, travel editor for The Saturday Evening Post, said no to anything outside her day job for one year to see if she was ready to make a freelance career. Well, maybe you’re not ready for your only income to be from writing. But you want more creative time, and you know it doesn’t help that you are the Cub Scout leader or president of Jaycees. If these activities are important to you, be a part of them, but try not to be put in charge. Volunteer to help with one Cub Scout field trip or one Jaycee service project instead of being the leader of the whole organization.
Have you ever asked yourself, "What was I thinking when I said I would do that?" If you don’t enjoy a commitment you’ve made, see if you can politely get out of it. Whether it is going to eat with co-workers or helping your neighbors with their annual garage sale, if you don’t find value in it, then explain yourself. What could it hurt? Remember Don Quixote said, “Honesty is the best policy.” Plus, you’ll have time to write an article on how to use tact and get what you want.
If you really are having trouble fitting writing into your life and you love it with all your heart, then look at your life. Can either of these tips help? I hope you'll soon be clicking away at the keyboard.
**Portions of this article were previously published in Beginnings Magazine Summer/Fall 2004