If you tried the activity in the last post: Finding Time to Write – without the guilt, you’ll have worked out what you would LIKE to be doing with your time. Perhaps it was cooking, travelling or maybe, like me, you wanted to make time to write.
It can be a difficult process to move from goal to action. Listed below are many strategies you can implement to write more often. Choose the ones that will work for you.
Ways to Make Time to Write
- LOVE your WIP. Seriously, this is the best way to make time to write. Your passion will drive you to the pages every chance you get. What if you’ve gone luke warm on your novel? Start thinking about your core message again. What you were trying to convey? Get excited about sharing that message.
- PRIORITISE. Stop thinking you need to find ‘spare’ time to write. There is no spare time, everyday only has the same 24 hrs. Start deciding to write before you take on daily chores – this is why it’s called make time to write.
- MORE HOURS. You could get up half an hour earlier, or go to bed half an hour later – or both! If you do a half hour sprint you could easily add 300-500 words to your manuscript each day.
- NOTEBOOKS. Take one with you everywhere, you’ll be amazed how many words will add up when you add a few on the bus, waiting in line at the supermarket or sitting in the pub waiting for your mate to get back from the bar. There’s also something about scrawling words across the page that can help you to fall in love with your manuscript and be motivated to make time to write again. Tech freaks – yes, you can get an app for that.
- DON’T COMPARE. It doesn’t matter how many words another writer is reaching. Comparing your achievements to others can lead to disappointment.
- MINIMUM LIMITS. What if you just aimed to write ONE good sentence today? By having a small, achievable goal, you’ll meet your target; of course once you get that one sentence, you’ll be motivated to write more.
- REWARD. Have celebrations and rewards for each milestone, reaching your daily word-count, finishing a chapter or reaching the end of a draft. Acknowledge your progress and treat yourself.
- BETWEEN TASKS. Whether you are at work on a huge business project, or at home cleaning up, work on your usual daily tasks by breaking them into chunks. By working in, say 20 minute bites, you’ll be a lot more focused and productive. In between those 20 minute routines, have a ten minute break. You could use that time to write in sprints.
- WORD QUOTA. Set a daily minimum word quota (500 seems to be popular). Keep a note of your highest number of words too, you HAVE to reach your minimum, but you might feel like aiming for a high-score some days.
- GET OFF THE INTERNET. Don’t just ‘say’ you’ll ignore it. No Facebook, emails, Farmville, Twitter or blog-visiting until your writing quota is DONE. If you can’t resist temptation, turn off the computer and use a notebook and pen.
- BE ACCOUNTABLE.Make an appointment with writing friends or join a critique group. This way you’ll have to produce something to share with them by your scheduled date.
- SPRINT. Give yourself small block of time to sit and write as fast as you can, if you can carve out one hour per day you could get a scene or 1,000 words added to your story.
- PROMPT. There are thousands of prompts available online or in writing texts. You can use short writing exercises to warm you up before hitting your manuscript, or try completing the prompts focused on your characters and you may be able to insert your results right into your story!
- CHALLENGE yourself. Each day record your word-count. Instead of setting a minimum word count, your goal is to merely beat yesterday’s high-score. When you ‘win’, put your word-count up on your whiteboard (what? you DON’T have a whiteboard? Fine, put it on a piece of paper and stick it up on the fridge), and maybe bake some cookies. I like cookies.
- RANSOM. Hold your day to ransom. Write first. The house is a mess, and you better get onto it or you are a bad parent/wife/neighbour (not really), but … you are not allowed to put those dishes away until you’ve done a ten minute writing stint or you’ve written one page. This method works well to motivate you to work quickly, especially if you have visitors due to drop in.
- DREAM. Record your dreams. They may not seem relevant but there is usually a spark of an idea that can be merged into your WIP.
- SLEEPY WRITE. Last thing at night, in bed, before you nod off, grab your notebook and pen and scrawl down your thoughts and ideas. There are some who swear this is when we get our best ideas.
- PLOT. When you find it really hard to make time to write, try just plotting out your story in your head while you complete menial tasks. You can mull over particular problems in your story. You’ll be motivated to get to the computer to record your progress with your story’s plot.
SCHEDULE. Some people write well late at night, others, like myself, do better early in the morning; maybe you’re more focused after lunch? Find your own natural flow; make time to write at that time of the day.
- FREEWRITE. This is a great method when you only have short a little time available; don’t waste it wondering where to start! Just sit down and write ANYTHING that pops in your head. Don’t let the pen stop moving across the page (or your fingers pause on the keys), set a timer and speed through your thoughts until it goes off.
- RECORD. Simply can’t make time to write? Then don’t! Use a recording app on your phone or computer and dictate your story while you work, travel or exercise. You could write your novel every time you walk the dog. There are programs to convert voice into text (not perfectly, but you can edit later), so you won’t need to type anything.