I hear it all the time.
It doesn’t seem to matter what stage of life we’re in or what part of the world we’re from. Regardless of age or gender or personality type, everyone says it: “I want to write, but I don’t have the time.”
Time Management Systems Only Part of the Solution
You might think the only solution is to quit your job or hire a nanny. More likely, you’ve given up. Well, I guess that’s where you’re finding yourself if you’re someone who wants to write but doesn’t because of time…or lack of it.
I don’t think you have to quit your job or hire a nanny. I also don’t think you have to give up.
I could offer project management and time management solutions to help you eliminate some things from your schedule, plan your days efficiently, streamline your processes, and make the most of your time.
And we could discuss distraction and motivation and nemesis and Resistance and procrastination. Because chances are, more than one thing is keeping you from writing, not just lack of time.
It Can Be Done: You Can Write
I want you to prove to yourself it can be done—you can write even when you think you have no time at all.
Here’s a simple solution that’s worked for me. In the next article I’ll share another. You can try one or the other, or both together for even more momentum. This first solution is especially powerful if it’s been a while since you’ve written.
Kickstart Your Writing with a Time Block
I urge you to kickstart your writing with a block of time devoted to nothing else but your words.
If your schedule is insane, this may seem like a counterintuitive suggestion or a contradiction—“If I don’t have time to write, how will I find a block of time to write?”
Have you taken a vacation in the past year or two? It could be a one-day escape to a nearby tourist attraction, a weekend retreat, or a week-long getaway. You made it happen, didn’t you? So you know it’s a hassle to step away from life and work, but it can be done. If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way to set aside the time and make it happen.
Same with this writing block. If you want it, you’ll find a way. And like a vacation, it’s not a regular thing. Just one block of time.
I want you to love yourself and your writing enough to say, “I’m doing it. I’m making this happen. I’ve waited long enough—it’s time to kickstart my writing.”
Can you find a block of time? Can you escape the busyness that’s been holding you back? Can you leave it behind for an afternoon, a day, a weekend, or longer, so you can write for an extended time and make a dent in your work-in-progress—or the work that hasn’t even begun?
You don’t have to go far, and you don’t have to be gone long to make a difference. Remember, this is a kickstart, not a completion—you don’t have to write the entire novel or finish the complete essay. You just dedicate a block of time to writing to give it a strong start or build out its bones.
Surely you can find an afternoon and evening? Or a full Saturday?
For a week or weekend getaway, you could head to a nearby retreat center or a local bed and breakfast or a campground cabin. If you only carved out a day or an afternoon, head to the library or see if a local co-working space offers an inexpensive day pass.
Depending on your project, you might want to find a location that doesn’t offer Wi-Fi. Without that distraction, you’ll get more words out. Just make notes in brackets directly in the text to remind you to look up details later. You can tackle that research some day when you have just a few minutes between appointments. Kickstarting your project means you need to set down words, lots of words, so don’t get distracted confirming the street name in your home town. Just write.
Keep the Writing Pipeline Flowing
You’ll make the most of this time by setting up your writing pipeline if you haven’t done that already. I introduced the writing pipeline in episode 114. In the days leading up to your block of writing time, add to the “Ideas” folder. Write headlines and hooks and bullet points that remind you of a story you can tell. You can do that kind of thinking in the car or the shower.
Take that writing pipeline with you—or at least the Ideas folder—when you head out, so you can immediately develop the idea with the most potential and energy. At the end of your block of time, you’ll kickstart your project with a good solid draft—or at least the start of a draft.
When you get a strong foundation, it’ll be much easier to build out the project and add some jazziness to that draft in the smaller scraps and slivers of time you’ll find on an average day.
Look at your calendar right now and search for a time block for you…for your writing.
I’m serious about this. Pull out your calendar. I can wait…
Why am I so serious about you blocking off time to write?
Because it’s a promise to yourself. When you block off that time, you’re saying your writing is valuable. Your words are worth investing in. Blocking off that time says you’re taking yourself seriously.
That block of time will kickstart your project.
And that block of time will set you up for ongoing success.
Use the Time to Write
When you get that block of time and you’re sitting at the table in the library or unpacking your laptop at the hotel, don’t turn on the TV. Don’t scroll through Facebook. Commit to the work. Write.
Don’t worry about how good or bad it is. Just write and write and write.
I’ve never had a cleaning service, but I’ve phoned to learn more about them. One company recommended that the first cleaning be what they called a deep clean, and then the subsequent cleanings could be more of a maintenance cleaning.
That’s kind of what this initial block of time is for our writing lives: it’s a deeper commitment up front offering time enough for deep thinking as you work.
You’ll gain vision and momentum. The daily writing sessions in the days that follow will feel so much more productive because you’ll know where you’re going and you’re already partway there. Before you know it, you’ll be done and ready for the next project.
- Ep 114: Make the Most of Your Time with a Writing Pipeline
- Ep 115: You’ll Write More When You Use an Editorial Calendar
- Ep 43: How to Avoid Distraction and Manage Attention to Write
- Ep 40: Take Charge of Your Writing Space, Tasks, and Projects
- Ep 38: Manage Your Writing Space, Time, Energy, and Attention
- Ep 41: 5 Steps to Find Time for Writing
- All podcast episodes
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