It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a writer in possession of an idea must be in want of some time to write. But let’s be real. The hardest thing about writing is figuring out how to make time for writing.

pen on a notebook with the text "10 ways to make time for writing"

In undergrad, I majored in creative writing. One of my best friends at the time was pre-med. Once I told her that I couldn’t go see a band play because I had to write. Her response was “I wish I had time to sit around all day and write.”

Wish you had time to sit around all day and write? YOU DO. #amwriting #NaNoWriMo Share on X

To this day, it remains one of the shittiest things anyone has ever said to me, even though I doubt she meant for me to take it that way.

The thing is, everyone has time to write, and I find it hilarious that she didn’t see what I was giving up something to MAKE TIME FOR WRITING. But whatever.

Anyhow, that’s what this post is about. In honor of #NaNoWriMo, I thought I would bring you a list of 10 ways to make time for writing. So, if you’ve fallen behind a little in your word count goals, don’t stress. There’s always time for writing, and here’s how I make time for writing.

001: Wake up early.
I’m a morning person, so it’s easy for me to wake up, brew a pot of coffee, and settle in to write. There’s just something about grabbing a notebook or laptop and getting your brain out on the page before anything else has a chance to dilute your thoughts. Plus, coffee just tastes better when you’re writing.

002: Use your lunch break.
When I worked at the job from hell, I used to take my iPad with a bluetooth keyboard to the foodcourt at the outlet mall. I’d buy some frozen yogurt and type my heart out. The foodcourt was nice and quiet during the middle of the day, and it was the best way to escape for just a bit. While I didn’t really write anything that turned into something bigger, I was able to crank out a lot of words.

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003: Embrace your phone’s notes app.
I think one of the biggest complaints I have about everyday life is the amount of time I waste waiting on other things. Standing in lines, sitting in waiting rooms, or just killing the next 15 minutes before a meeting DRIVES ME CRAZY. Ideally, I’d never have these weird lulls so I could get everything done and then head home for the day. Unfortunately, that’s not possible. So, instead, I use my phone’s notes app when I find myself in those situations. Generally, I just outline stuff, but occasionally I’ll be able to bash out a whole scene while I’m waiting for my day to resume.

004: Say no to an invitation.
Remember when I told my friend that I couldn’t go see a band play? I made time for writing by saying no to an invitation. We are currently in that time of year when there are no less than 76 billion invitations to various events. You’re going to have to say no to some of them, especially if you’re going to write.

005: Call in sick.
Okay. So, this isn’t always advisable. But sometimes, it’s necessary. I know that most writers are hustlers. By that I mean that if you’re a writer, then you probably also have a side gig. And when you couple that with family and life obligations, it’s easy to see why calling in sick might be the only way a writer can get some time to hit their word count. When I was in grad school, I called in sick to work because I had approximately 9 hours to write a 20-page paper. So, if you’re way behind in your word count and you have the paid time off, call in and take your day.

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(P.S. I made an A on that paper.)

006: Batch other tasks.
I absolutely hate taking time out to cook dinner every night. If I’ve worked out, gone to my day job, and dealt with life in general, there’s no way in hell that I’m going to also cook dinner. So, on Sundays I prep all my meals for the week. I make enough for lunches and dinner. Overall, this takes about 2-3 hours on a single day, but it makes big windows of uninterrupted time in the evenings on week days. Instead of having to make something, I can pop a plate in the microwave, and have a full meal. Then, I have the rest of my evening to write and not babysit a pot on the stove.

007: Never turn on your TV.
I am one of those horrible millennials who doesn’t have cable. But I definitely like to binge watch. And, even when I’m not watching Netflix, I’m totally addicted to PBS’s Create channel and all the great cooking shows they have. (Do you think Jacques Pépin wants to be my French grandpa?) If I’m not careful, I’ll spend way more time in front of the TV than I intend to. And that goes double in the morning when I’m sipping coffee and listening to Charlie, Gayle, and Nora on CBS This Morning. So, if I know I need to get something done, the TV has to stay off.

008: Take away what makes you procrastinate.
It’s really easy to tell yourself that before you hunker down to write, you need to check your email and Twitter. And then, before you know it, you’ve lost the whole hour you had to write. So, to make time for writing, you have to take away what makes you procrastinate. I’m always more prolific when I don’t have an internet connection. Recently, I purchased a used AlphaSmart 3000 on Amazon, and every time I sit down with it, I get a lot of words in fast. Why? Well, because it’s a word processor that doesn’t have an internet connection. That means I can’t stop writing and Google information that I probably don’t need in the middle of a writing session. (That’s what editing is for, dammit.)

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Writer tip: Take away what makes you procrastinate.#amwriting #NaNoWriMo Share on X

009: Do it first thing on your day off.
I don’t teach on Fridays. This means that while Chris is at work, I’m home alone. I try to take advantage of this time as much as I can. While my to do list is generally jam-packed with every sort of teaching administrative task that I can’t get done during my office hours, I prioritize writing first. That means I have to bash out some words before I will allow myself the privilege of putting grades into a spreadsheet. And once it’s done, I feel so much more productive and motivated to get other things done.

010: Live in squalor.
Okay. Maybe this is an exaggeration. But if you’re trying to write something, that means you have to let something else fall by the wayside. And you know what’s really easy to give up to make time for writing? Cleaning. I’ve read interviews where both J.K. Rowling and Rainbow Rowell have stated that while you’re writing, the house is going to be a mess. And I have to say, I’m fine with that.

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So what about you? How do you make time for writing? Any tips or hacks for making time during #NaNoWriMo?

6 Responses

  1. These are great writing hacks. Are they hacks? Maybe just excellent suggestions. I am a no noise writer. It’s why I have to wait until the kids go to be before I can do anything. No TV is a must though sometimes I have to remind myself of that.

    1. I’m definitely a no noise writer too. Well, I don’t mind some classical music in the background, but there definitely can’t be any voices.

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