Finding Time To Write

With every day already packed full of must-do activities, where can aspiring authors find that extra time each day to write?

Are you convinced that you could succeed as a writer, if you just had more time to write? Is your day already packed with "must-do" activities? Do you wonder where prolific writers find that precious commodity--time to write? The answer is that they make time in their 24-hour day, which, incidentally, is exactly the same length as yours and mine. If you are really serious about writing, you, too, can make time, no matter how packed your schedule seems to be.

1. GET AWAY FROM THE TV SET. Most of us would never admit the actual number of hours we spend there. Why not establish that first hour, or even half hour each evening as your special time for writing? If you have your work area ready to go as soon as you sit down, you'd be surprised at how much work you can get done in just half an hour.

2. GET A NEW HAIRSTYLE. You are probably asking, "What does my hair have to do with writing?" A lot, if you are spending 30-40 minutes a day setting and styling your hair. Have your hairdresser work out a style for you that is quick and easy. Voila! Another half hour a day for writing. (This tip is mainly for the women readers, but a few of you men may find it useful, too.)

3. GET ORGANIZED. Divide a small loose-leaf notebook, into sections and spend some time planning your writing at the beginning of each month. (Or week, if you prefer.) Give each article or story you plan to work on that week or month its own section. Make a rough outline of the article or story on the first page of each section. Keep the notebook handy. When a new idea occurs to you, rush to the notebook and jot it down.

4. GET RID OF activities that steal your time and give nothing in return. If you belong to a writer's group or some other club that has deteriorated into a boring social afternoon each week, just think how many words you could write during that same period of time. Don't become a recluse, though. Writers do need the stimulation of being with others. Just cut out activities that waste your time instead of enriching your life.

5. GET LESS PARTICULAR about household chores. Does your carpet really need vacuuming every single day? Why not try it once or twice a week? If the roof doesn't fall in, you've probably discovered a way to snatch a little more writing time for yourself.

6. GET SMART. Do you rush to the mall several times a month to look for gifts for friends and relatives? Instead, make a list of the gifts you will need each month of the year. Then, once a month, pick up all the gifts you will need for the next 30 days. Once a year would be even better, but sizes and tastes change so that might not be practical. Do throw in a couple of generic gifts in case something unexpected comes up.

7. GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN. Do you bake cookies when store-bought ones taste just as good (or better) and actually, in many cases, cost less? Spend a few hours once a month planning menus, preparing and freezing casseroles, etc. Then, while those casseroles bake, you can write.

8. GET OUT OF THE GROCERY STORE. Plan ahead. Make a list showing the aisles of your local grocery store and what is located in each. Keep the list in a handy spot so that family members can write down items that need to be replenished. On grocery buying day, copy the list on your fax machine, and give each family member a copy. At the grocery store, divide the aisles between you, your partner, and your children (if they are old enough) and meet at the front counter in 5 minutes. A few more minutes at the check-out and you are on your way home--- to write. (This not only saves time; it also saves money that would ordinarily be spent on impulse buying.)

9. GET A HEAD START on morning chores. If you love to write in the early morning but can't because of the rush to fix breakfast, get kids ready for school, make lunches, etc., switch most of these activities to just before bedtime the night before. Help the kids lay out their clothes and supplies for the next day, make lunches and freeze them, and set the table for breakfast. Not only will they get to sleep later in the morning, but you will have a little extra quiet time to write.

10. GET A GRIP on those stray moments that pop up in everyone's day. Carry your notebook, or even a little purse or pocket size spiral tablet and utilize the time you wait for your kids while they take swimming, piano, or karate lessons. Don't waste time in doctor or dentist's office reading articles that are 2 years old when you could spend it creating brand new copy. Is the professor late for a class you are taking? Pull out that little spiral notebook. Even if you need peace and quiet to write great literature, these unexpected moments can be used to organize your thoughts on a new subject, outline a new article, or plot out the next months dinner menus. The point is, recognize these moments as a gift of time, and use them productively.

There you have it: ten very workable ideas to help you find more time to write. There are other interesting things to do in life, but most real writers can't imagine what they might be. If you have read this far, you are without doubt one of them. Here's hoping your next article or story will reach your waiting public very soon.

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