January 17, 2017

How Do Writers Find Time To Write?

One of the main things a writer needs to know is not based on knowledge, it's based on action.

What action?

How to fit writing into your schedule.

No big deal, some of you are saying, but a lot of writers know what I'm talking about. Finding time to write is not easy especially when it's not your primary form of employment or you have others dependent on you.


Over the past ten years, I managed to fit writing into my schedule until last year.

What happened last year?

My empty nest filled back up with two young children, my grandchildren. Between the obligations of school, medical needs, legal issues, homework, and the desperate need to increase our income, writing took a back seat...over and over again.

I tried making to-do lists, but the needs of a nine and five year old took precedence. My sanity took precedence. The continual battle of setting up custody and lining up insurance and dealing with social workers and teachers and making sure everyone had clothes that fit and a semi-balanced meal in their bellies really took it's toll.

When training opportunities surfaced, I jumped at them. I scheduled work in every gap I could find and kept trying to find time to write. It wasn't there. Then another setback—my self-care bottomed out. I quit my exercise program because I couldn't afford it, and the lovely, balanced meals my husband and I enjoyed didn't appeal to the grandchildren.

On top of all of this , every single time I had a full day blocked out for writing, some one got sick. Which often meant I caught what they had and lost multiple days to illness.


How am I changing this pattern?

I approached 2017 determined to take back control. Yes, the legal issues are no longer taking up time, but there's still school, homework, gymnastics, sick kids, and the need to pay the bills.

As clients began asking about my schedule for next year, I picked up my calendar and made some specific decisions. I reserved specific days of the week for writing. The other days are reserved for clients and training needs. If a client wants to book a writing day, I will book it but I must switch it with a training day in order to keep the balance between the two. In addition, I have three blocks of time set aside for exercise...I'm still working on the balanced meal issue.

Is it perfect?

As often happens, my plans hit a snag last week. Snow.

School got cancelled on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday brought a two hour delay, but one of the kids was sick and couldn't go. Plus, school was out on Friday for a Teacher Workday, and this past Monday was the MLK holiday.

Have I given up?

NO!

Today I'm back on track and moving forward. I will not let a minor slip up in the schedule ruin my plans. When I teach time management, many of my trainees claim planning never works because something goes wrong. My answer? If you have a plan, you can figure out how to adapt to the issue rather than trying to get it all done without thinking it through. Last year, I didn't think it through. This year I won't make that mistake. Yes, I lost a week, but my plan is still here, and I'm adapting it to meet the needs of this week.

What about you? Do you have a scheduled time for writing? How do you make sure you have time?


5 comments:

Monet Jones said...

I've found I can't expect more than an hour of free time at any time during the day. Most of my writing is done between 1:30 and 4:00 AM while my wife and grandson sleep.

TammyJo Eckhart said...

I'm lucky because I am a full-time author. The question for me is how to I limit my writing so my arm injury doesn't worsen so that I can keep writing? I do that by writing for no more than 90 minutes a day and by splitting that time into three sections with stretching breaks between.

Barbara V. Evers said...

Ha! I completely understand. Unfortunately, I'm unable to function at those hours. I do know a lot of writers who do, though.

Barbara V. Evers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barbara V. Evers said...

TammyJo, I set a timer for 45 minutes if I think I'm going to overdo it. Then I take a break and set the timer again. I have fibromyalgia, so I have to be careful. Mine settles in the shoulders. Whatever it takes, right?