Thursday, 5 November 2009

Making Time to Write

Do you 'find' time to write, or do you 'make' time to write?

Is there a difference? Yes. 'Finding' time is when you finish doing a job (mowing the lawn, doing the ironing, preparing a meal) and then realise that you have half an hour until you need to be doing something else or until the rest of the family will descend upon you. Deciding to use this time to write is a wise move. But in reality, 'finding' time should be seen as a 'bonus'. What you need to do is 'make' time - regular time.

'Making' time is all about setting a clear time frame during which you can write. I've just had an article accepted by Writing Magazine on this very topic, so I'm not going to go into too many details here - you'll have to wait and buy the magazine to read about it(!), but I interviewed three writers who have all made the effort to 'make' time for their writing. And of course, all three are benefiting from this decision.

One bought a laptop so she could write during her lunch hour for two lunch breaks a week. Two hours of writing a week doesn't sound much, but add it up and it is equivalent to doing a full time writing job for two weeks of the year. What could you achieve in two weeks? Another writer reduced her working hours, so she spends a few days a week on her writing now, whilst another took a career break.

Some ways of making time are easier than others - finding two hours a week is easier than taking a career break. But the point is, you need to find the writing time that is right for you.

In November, there are hundreds of thousands of writers who have 'made' time. November is 'NaNoWriMo' - National Novel Writing Month and the aim is for writers to start writing a novel on the 1st November, and by midnight on 30th November have completed at least 50,000 words of that novel. It's a tough challenge, but it is achievable. Many do succeed. The reason they succeed is because the 'NaNoWriMo' event gives them the excuse to tell family members that it is a special event just for November. It has a constrained time frame. The family may be annoyed that the writer isn't around much during November, but at least they know that the writer will be back to 'normal' in December!

So if any of you are tackling 'NaNoWriMo' I wish you all the success in the world. Congratulations on making the time to write 50,000 words. But when the 1st December arrives just look back on what you have achieved in November. This is what happens when you 'make' time to write. Just think what you could achieve if you 'made' time to write every month. Obviously making time to write 50,000 words every month isn't sensible, but now you know how to make time (because you did it in November), why not try to 'make' two or three hours of writing time a week in the future?

Talking of making time to write, I too am making some time to write. Yes, I know I'm full time, therefore I can write all day everyday (within reason), but when you're in this fortunate position, you spend a lot of time writing what other people (editors, publishers, other customers) want you to write and not necessarily what you want to write.

So this Saturday I'm off to the Lake District in the north of England for five weeks. I shall not be returning until the middle of December. The picture above is the view from the window of the self-catering apartment that I shall be staying in. Unlike many writers, I actually find a beautiful view inspiring, rather than distracting.

What shall I be doing? Well I have a novel of 130,000 words and basically, I need to delete 30,000 of them. So whilst there are thousands of writers in November creating words, I shall be deleting them. Perhaps I should establish NaNoDelMo - National Novel Deleting Month instead? Will the novel be of publishable quality once I've done that - who knows? Will it help me secure an agent? Who knows? The only way to find out though, is to 'make' the time to enable me to do it. (Yes, I've been busy working overtime in order to write all the articles that I needed to write during those five weeks that I shall be away.) Doing this though, has enabled me to 'make' the time.

I still intend to post to the blog whilst I'm away. I hope to have a mobile Internet connection, although I have been warned that the weather can interfere with this, and let's face it, the Lake District has a reputation for 'weather'!

I'll let you know how I get on with my writing time, whilst I'm away. Good luck to those doing NaNoWriMo, and for those who aren't why not 'make' some regular writing time for yourselves?

Good luck.

PS - Writers Bureau students may be interested to know that the latest Chapter & Verse online Ezine for enrolled students is now available. Use your login details to take a look.


  1. Hi, Simon. Oooh I envy you going away for five weeks to such a beautiful place! Yup, you have to MAKE time to write. There are plenty of distractions and other committments in everyone's lives but if you want to suceed in writing and get published you have to write the stuff first. And if that means making some sacrifices and compromises then so be it.

    We want it all, all the time and a lot of the time we can't, we have to say, "I'm sitting down to write NOW!" And stick to it. No one else can do it for you. And it's amazing how quickly the word count builds up once you get going - even only writing for fifteen mins or so a day, as myself and Di, have learned (from the best tutor in the world, I hasten to add!)

    Have a great time in the Lakes (well not actually in them, of course, as it will be a bit nippy this time of year!)


  2. All the best with the editing on your novel, Simon, and enjoy being in the lap of the Lakes. x

  3. By coincidence, I've just invested in a Netbook. My lappy was too heavy to be truly portable, so I decided to buy something that could even be slipped into my rucksack.

    It only weighs 1kg - or a bag of sugar to those Imperialists who refuse to convert.

    I haven’t opted to go on-line with it – simply because surfing and mailing is too much of a distraction. My notes can easily be transferred to my office PC and I have the convenience of being truly portable – well, you know what I mean.

    I always carry a note book with me and the Netbook is, to me, a more natural progression from pen and paper.

    Happy tapping!

  4. You had better pack plenty of red pens - 30,000 words to be edited is a big job! Enjoy and am looking forward to the end product.

  5. Thanks for your kind comments guys and gals.

    No Julie, I don't plan on going IN the lakes. It'll be cold enough outside the water, let alone in it!

    Good luck with the netbook Helen. Keep a record of your productivity and see what impact the netbook has on that.

    Thanks Carol - it'll be nice just to get back into the novel again. It's been a year since I last really looked at it. And as for those red pens Rob, yeah, I have to edit on paper first - so that's even more stuff I have to take to the Lakes - red pens and 450 pages of A4 paper!


  6. Wishing you lots of luck with the editing Simon, that's quite a few words to get rid of, but I am sure you will do it. Make time to enjoy yourself too though, you deserve it. I look forward to seeing how you get on and please do make us all jealous with more photos of your stunning surroundings.

  7. Hi Simon

    You forgot the best way of "making" time to write is to go on a Writers Retreat which I am doing in November.

    I make at least half an hour in the morning a time to write. On a Sunday morning I make sure I have at least ten minutes to read the paper and launch off a letter via email. It is as simple as that.

    I am learning things from "a really good tutor" who gave a workshop at the beginning of the year, provided us with diaries and said make yourself "WO = Writing Opportunities". I have not forgotten that workshop.

    Enjoy the Lake District as much as you can. Remember if unsure of your editing use "track changes" this gives various colours so you know where you are with it. Another thing you could do is email it to a different email address and pretend you have received the manuscript from someone else and edit it that way.

    Best of luck.

    Love Fee

  8. Good luck with the editing, Simon.

    You are right, it's necessary to MAKE time to write. I always knew I would become a writer some day, when I had 'time.' But with a full time job and two school age kids it took me years to realise no one was ever going to hand me a chunk of time on a plate. So I had to make time.

    Now the kids go hungry and are dressed in rags, but hey, I get the occasional story published. ;-)

  9. I have kept a journal since age 18 and am now 62. Blogging has really given me so much and such a creative outlet. I have wanted to learn to blog for over a year, and just last June, seized the moment and started my blog. I will be following you for all your great tips.