When my wife and I got serious about making time for writing, something had to be cut. I’m a big believer that there’s always time… you just have to make it.
Here are some ideas we came up with to help fit writing into your life.
Cut back on TV: The average american adult watches roughly 2.8 hours of TV per day. (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm/) That’s a lot of leisure time for writing.
Find a consistent time to write each day: Writing is about showing up and working…. the muse will come if it comes. Find a consistent time you can set aside all distractions and focus. If you have kids, that might mean waking up early or staying up late. If you work, that might be your lunch hour or commute time (if you have ride the bus — not if you bike!)
Work Collaboratively With People: Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary endeavour. David Wright and Sean Platt (http://selfpublishingpodcast.com/about/) co-author a series of books. My wife and I usually brainstorm while walking together after dinner. I think people are afraid to work together because their ideas will be stolen, but as Tim O’Reilly said, “Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy”
Look at your expenses: How much time are you working at your day job? Do you have multiple jobs? Lots of overtime? Take a look at your expenses. If you can reduce them, you might be able to reduce your day job. How much is your rent? Are you signed up for services you don’t use much anymore? How much are you spending on entertainment and eating out? Do you sneak off to buy snacks every day? Look into reducing your workload if that’s possible for your profession.
Outsource what can be outsourced: How is your time best spent? Are you trying to do the whole book process yourself? Sometimes it makes sense to hire professionals to handle editing, cover design, etc, even if you can do it yourself. Given your talents you need to figure out what’s the best use of your time and what you should hire help for. Ask friends for help if they have an interest in books as well.
It’s OK to say no: People are always making demands on our time. It’s easy to feel guilted into doing them. (I’m from the midwest — I know all about guilt). It’s ok to defend your writing time and say no to requests that cut into it.
Always carry a notebook: You never know when you’ll have an unexpected block of time. Maybe you’ll be waiting for an appointment or the grocery line will be an hour long. (I know it’s unlikely, but keep a notebook handy just in case.)
Speed up household chores: How can you speed up household chores? Can you cook food in batches? Buy more underwear so you can wash clothes in bigger batches? Just don’t cut corners on cleaning — you never know when Mom will stop by.
Do things that inspire you: You don’t need to be a poor, deprived, starving artist. Do things that inspire you (maybe that’s hiking, watching rodeo, or going to a museum). If you’re not taking care of yourself (physically, mentally, spiritually), then you won’t have as much energy for everything… including writing.
Work on projects you love: If you love what you’re doing and it makes you happy, then you’ll find time for anything. Pick writing projects you love and that inspire you. If you don’t love what you’re doing, it’s time to do something else.