How do I find the time to write? 5 tips to beat the excuses…

So anyways, aside from a few random leftover Bali posts, I’ve devoted the last couple of weeks to Nanowrimo- why you should do it, how to prepare for it…that sort of thing.

Just lately, I’ve spoken to a few people who’ve said things like:

‘I SO want to do this. Like, seriously, really want to do this- but I just don’t have time. I have a job, you know.’


‘I’m ready this year, but November is when the shit starts to hit the fan with school stuff.’


‘I don’t know how people manage it. I have a family, and a job. I really want to do it- I know there’s a book in me- but I simply don’t have time.’

Here’s the thing- I know. I know all of this. We’re all busy in our own ways.

I have a family and work a stressful full-time job too. I’m out the door at 7am, and back home by 6pm in time to arrange dinner, or orthodontists, or chiropractors, or gym sessions, or tutoring…oh wait, I don’t have that one anymore…the tutoring, that is. In the meantime, I have a heavy blogging schedule with the astro site, and like to keep regular posts happening here too. My house still needs cleaning, and clothes need washing, and shirts need ironing, and gardens need weeding, and social lives need arranging. There’s always something that has to be done. A couple of hours to sit down and write can seem like a guilty pleasure.

I used to say that I’d like to run a marathon. I said it so often that I had to enter a 10km event. Twice. Then it hit me that I didn’t really want to run a marathon- I didn’t really want to run at all. I hated it- so much I can’t put the words around it. Emily’s story in Baby, It’s You, is mine- except that it took me longer to declare that I was never ever ever running again. Ever. A nice walk would suit me perfectly well.

The same analogy goes for writing a book. You might have been saying for years that you want to write a book. The experience of nano could help you decide if long distance writing is really for you. Or it will help you get it out of your system and convince you that the literary equivalent of a nice walk is more your style.

If you really (and I mean really) want to do nanowrimo, but have no idea how you’re going to fit it in, try these tips. It’s Friday, so there are five:

You don’t need to write 50,000 words

That’s right. You don’t. Any words you do write will be more than you had last month. Set yourself a session goal. It could be 500 words, it could be 1667…it could be somewhere in between. It’s all ok.

Schedule your writing time

Get your calendar out and mark in all your commitments- places that you know you have to be. Be honest, and be realistic.

Maybe you can manage a half an hour in the morning before the kids get up and all hell breaks loose, or an hour at night after they go to bed. You might choose to fit it in on a weekend, or get together with friends for a marathon writing session.

However you schedule it, keep to it.

What’s my routine?

I tend to exercise first thing in the morning- my alarm goes off at 5.30am. I scribble at lunchtime when I can, and usually manage to write for an hour or so (in bed) each night.

I try and get next weeks astro blog posts done and scheduled on Friday evening and Saturday mornings before whatever maintenance appointment needs keeping. It’s mad, but it means I can spend time with my family on the weekend, and get my real writing done over the time that’s left.

Yes, it’s chaotic, and busy and all the rest of that, but I figure that one day (hopefully in the not too distant future) this will be my full-time job and I won’t need to fit a corporate role around it. In the meantime, I’m prepared to do what it takes to get there.

Schedule your down-time

You have to. Getting out for a walk, or a coffee or whatever will help keep the creative juices flowing- and ensure you stay sane. If you want to stay inspired while you’re walking, check out this blog on podcasts. I’ve added another- Serial- to this list. Be warned- it’s addictive. Oh, and The Creative Penn. Look them up on iTunes or google apps.

Limit your TV

Yes, yes, yes…but it’s only for 30 days. You can catch up on your favourite shows later. I tend to allow myself an hour a night (usually the previous nights The Block– I refuse to watch it live with ads- or something else I’ve recorded).

The same applies to internet.

Be kind to yourself

You don’t need to make like Superwoman. It’s ok if there’s a dust bunny in the corner, or a weed in the vegie patch, or leftovers for dinner or that New Moon post and newsletter. It’s ok to ask for help, and it’s ok to stand in the middle of the room when you get home and scream…or is that just me?

So, how about it? Are you in?

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

2 thoughts

  1. I completely agree it’s all about making time. For some time now I’ve been struggling with stuff. Emails are going unread, blog posts unread and my own unwritten and things I’ve said I’d do, I’ve put off. And if asked I’d say ‘I don’t have time.’ Which isn’t true as I’m not working and have all of the time in the world.

    Sadly the more time I have the less time I seem to feel I have. I know it’s more about ‘headspace’ than time. And my mindset needs to change.

    When I worked full-time I had a long commute and yet managed to blog regularly and go to the gym 4-5 days a week. I went into work early so I could go to a gym class every weekday at lunchtime and it went into my diary so I had no excuses. It very much became habit. And each night when I got home I’d sit at my desk on my computer for a while before bathing and cooking. It was just something I had to make time for.

    Whereas now…. *sigh*

    1. I’m exactly the same when I don’t have as much on my plate. It’s almost as if I can’t achieve anything unless I do it in chaos!

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