(This post is the first of three in a special series for aspiring authors)
One of the number one questions people ask me when they find out I've written multiple books is, "How do you find the time to write?" Then they usually offer up their own barriers to carving out time. They're too busy, they work full time, they spend all weekend at their kids sports events, etc.
And while these are some very valid obstacles they are also excuses. I believe in the old adage, where there is a will, there is a way. If you are an aspiring author you HAVE TO MAKE TIME TO WRITE. There is no way around it- no magical potion that can help you skip ahead. You've got to make it a priority and if you're committed and passionate, you'll find a way otherwise you'll find excuses because maybe you're actually afraid to write. There are several barriers that keep you from even attempting to write and I'll address those in my blog post next week. But this post is about carving out time to write. Here are some tried and true tips that even the "busiest" individual will find useful:
1. Set an appointment on your calendar- You can get up thirty minutes earlier each day or go to bed thirty minutes later and use that time to write. It doesn't seem like a lot of time but if you do it daily it adds up. You can also make time during your lunch hour a couple of days a week; instead of going to lunch, find a quiet conference room or walk to a nearby park or just sit in your car. Bring your laptop, tablet, phone or even note pad and capture your ideas, thoughts, dialogue, etc.
2. Maximize your time- Every day for almost an hour I am sitting in school pick up lines (two different schools). Some days I bring my laptop and while I'm waiting I write instead of scrolling through social media. If you are at the doctors office or dentist office or getting your oil changed. . .anywhere you will have a thirty minute to one hour or longer wait you can write! Use the Notes app on your phone or Evernote app, email yourself what you've written and just cut and paste it into your manuscript later.
3. Use your voice- Most smartphones have a function where you can talk into your phone and it will convert to text. If you are sitting in traffic or have a super long commute each morning, why not open a Note or email (set this up before you start driving!) and press the microphone icon and start talking. You can speak the words instead of writing them. It will seem weird at first like you're talking to yourself but after a while you'll find a comfortable rhythm. It's almost like you are recording your book in audio form. I will warn you that sometimes the voice command hears words WRONG but they are minor mistakes that you can go back and correct after the fact. Just be sure this isn't a distraction and that you are still paying attention to the road.
4. Find a writing buddy- If you have friends that you normally hang out with on the weekend, grabbing brunch, shopping or seeing a movie. . . find out if anyone in your friend group is also an aspiring writer, if so, instead of simply meeting for brunch make it a "working" brunch. Bring your laptops, tablets, phones or notepads and instead of catching up on the latest gossip just bask in the quite solitude while you work on your respective manuscripts.
5. NaNoWriMo- (National Novel Writing Month) Although this only takes place once a year in November, it is a good way to hold yourself accountable. I wrote the bulk of my first book by participating. Participants sign up and make a commitment to write a whopping 50,000 words for the entire month of November! Let me tell you it's no easy feat, you basically have to be committed to writing 1,667 words per day to reach this goal. But the feeling (and bragging rights) of being a NaNoWriMo "winner" is amazing! Not to mention your book is practically written at the end of it.
What are some of your tried and true tips for finding time to write?
I've mentioned in previous posts that I tend to procrastinate and usually it's because I'm being lazy. But there are times, more often than not, that I am on fire and getting a ton of stuff accomplished. Here are some of my sure fire tips for getting things done:
1. Handwritten lists- I swear by handwritten lists. Even though I might type out a note on my phone every now and then, I typically stick to old fashioned pen and paper. I often write my lists in a small tablet or planner. There is something about writing things down in my own handwriting that helps my brain make a connection to its importance. After you write your daily list of to-do's make sure you put it in your purse, computer bag or wallet to keep it with you for reference throughout the day.
2. Reminders on your smart phone- Often I have so many irons in the fire that something may get left off of my handy dandy list. That's when I pick up my phone and say, "Hey Siri, remind me at 2:00 to call Patty." or "Hey Siri, remind me to respond to Harold's email." I also use the calendar function and alarm function on my phone for important reminders as well. They each have an alert system to send a pop up or audio tone to remind you at whatever date/time you select.
3. Distraction free zone/hours- There are days when I am facing a serious deadline, so I designate certain times as "distraction free". I enable the do not disturb feature on my phone and then I leave it in another room, so that I am not tempted to click on my Instagram, twitter or Facebook apps. I also enable my phone alarm for an hour or two and I work free of distractions during the time allotted before taking a break.
4. Accountability partner or reward- I have used accountability partners in the past and it is a great way to hold your feet to the fire. If you tell someone, "hey, I'm going to have this document finished tomorrow by two o'clock" and you know they are going to call you and want to see the document, it makes you work harder to keep your word. Or you can have someone call and check on you and ask about your progress on an important project a few times during the week. I also love the reward system. When I meet a deadline I set for myself or I accomplish something pretty amazing, I treat myself to a massage, pedicure, flowers, fancy lunch or even a new book! I know I can technically get that stuff anytime I want but it's so much sweeter to have a reason for the treat!
5. Just do it-I personally LOVE the feeling of accomplishment. When I work on something–to know it didn't even exist before or it was a challenge that I overcame- it gives me goosebumps and makes me vibrate with excitement. Conversely, when I procrastinate, I feel like crap. Seriously, if two days pass and I've put off something on my list, I feel like I've just wasted two days of my life for no real reason and I'll never get that time back. So I usually just do it. Whatever it is- at the very least I get started right then and there because I know tomorrow I'm going to be filled with regret if I don't.
I love music. I specifically love old school music. Mainly from the 80s. Hip hop, pop, rock. . .most of the music from that decade was fun and energizing. I've created a playlist with some of the songs from that time period (some are more recent) that I listen to when I'm working. They help motivate me to get my day started and keep me productive. Although I have to admit, I do have the urge to get up and dance every now and then.
It's no coincidence that this list has song titles that entrepreneurs can relate to. . . Enjoy!
Writer. Reader. Designer. Creative Spirit.
“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.”