How to Make Time to Write

It’s National Novel Writing Month, that time of year when many writers challenge themselves to produce a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, so I figured this was a good opportunity to discuss a common question: How do I find time to write?

Before I continue, I think I should admit I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo. I think it’s great motivation for some writers, but it doesn’t really fit my writing style, and I always find myself in the middle of a project when it begins. Maybe some year I’ll give it a try.

Even though I’m not doing the marathon that is NaNoWriMo, I still have to make time to write. Notice I said make, not find. If you’re hoping to find time, you’re destined to fail. Everyone has the same number of hours in the day. There are no extra minutes lying under your sofa cushions or in you jacket pockets like spare change. If you want to write, you have to give up doing something else.

So what can you give up?

Most people have at least a little idle time most days. Maybe you can give up some time spent watching television or playing games on your smartphone. (If you're like me, you might have to delete the game from your phone. Go ahead. Do it now. I'll wait.)

I’ve woken up early to write, so giving up sleep is another option. Just don’t give up too much. Sleep deprivation is a real problem. 

Sometimes family members cut into writing time. You might need to tell your family that you want a little uninterrupted time. Don’t feel bad about it. Everyone deserves a little personal time, even parents.


Or you might be able to write while doing something else. For example, you can write while you sit on the bus or during your lunch break. For those antisocial people out there, this also gives you a great excuse not to talk to people.

If you get too distracted to write at home, go to a coffee shop. If the internet distracts you, go online. You can even use old-fashioned pencils and paper for your first draft. 

You don’t need a lot of time. Thirty minutes a day. Two hours twice a week. As long as you make a schedule and stick to it, you can finish a novel. You might not do it in a month, but you’ll do it. 

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