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Finding Time to Write by Hayley Hunkin
I think one of the biggest problems facing new writers is finding time to write and to revise our work. Very few have the luxury of being able to afford to be full-time writers, and everyone still has to juggle family and friendships as well as work commitments, so time is always a precious commodity, let alone finding time to write.
Writing can also feel quite a selfish thing to do, because it often means taking time away from the family. It's especially hard for new authors to say to their families, "I'm writing," when it can seem like the least important thing to do right then. With National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) coming up in November, I thought it could be encouraging to go through some ways you could make more time to write. Even if you don't want to write a novel in November, you can still use the challenge to write more often!
- 1. Give Up Some Sleep
- Whether you are an early riser or a late sleeper, try finding a quiet half hour to an hour at the start or end of the day. Yes, you may need to sleep a little less, but it could be worth it to have your quiet writing time while the rest of the household sleeps.
- 2. Plan While You Exercise
- Walking or working out at the gym is a good time to do some of the thinking, planning, and dreaming that needs to happen before any writing takes place. You may even like to record your previous writing and listen to it instead of music. This will give you great ideas on areas that need alterations. By doing your planning and thinking about your characters, plots, story arcs, or ideas while you are doing something physical, such as walking, you effectively double your time, and you can be productive in the time you do have to sit down and write.
- 3. Book in a Writing Appointment
- Putting a writing appointment time into your weekly or daily calendar can really help you to stay on track. Treat the appointment as any other appointment and don't book anything else for that time. This is not an optional activity that you only do when you don't have anything else on, but time that you choose to put aside for your precious writing. Anyone who wants to be a successful author needs to take the time to write as often as possible, and setting a writing time into your calendar helps you to ensure you do the writing.
- 4. Join a Critique Group
- Creative Kids Tales has a wonderful critique group and participating in this helps to make sure you are spending time on your writing each week. It also gives you weekly deadlines to meet in critiquing other authors. You'll learn so much about the craft of writing for children from the other authors and critiquing someone else's work is a great way to kick start the brain before a writing session.
- 5. Go to the Library to Write
- During the month of November, many local libraries will be holding special writing times where you can meet with other authors in your area and after a few hours of quiet writing time, socialise with a cuppa. However, you can head off to a library to write in a quiet space any time of the year. Sometimes, working in a different environment, especially one free from interruptions from the family is often a great way to ensure your precious writing time is not wasted. My four-year-old always wants Mummy as soon as I sit down at the computer, even though his Daddy is there, but if I disappear to the library for a couple of hours, it's much easier for my son (and much quieter for me!).
- 6. Give Up a TV Show
- Make time for your writing by giving up a television show you would normally watch. This is a simple way to get the time and you won't disturb the family either. Instead of plonking down to veg out to the TV, walk out to your desk, and write for the time of the TV show. A half hour show each day gives you 30 minutes of quality writing time without missing too much.
- 7. Stop Procrastinating
- Finally, tell your family to stay away, turn off your phone and do not start your writing time by first checking out Facebook (even if you are officially working on your "author platform"). Use the time you have set aside for writing to complete writing tasks. Challenge yourself to keep writing until the time is up: you might be surprised at how much you can achieve in a short space of time when you concentrate on the task at hand.
Hopefully, this will encourage you all to get writing. I'm going to stop procrastinating on this blog now, and get writing on my next children's story too. Happy NaNoWriMo everyone!
A lot of lovely advice and thoughts Hayley...and I was also fascinated to read your interview and discover you spent time as a journalist, which I know from my own experience gives you a lot of discipline about deadlines, having to write even when you are not 'in the mood' and learning more about how to edit, cut text and kill your babies! And yes, I am procrastinating right now, as I'm currently editing a story. Back to work.
But thank you, and all the very best with your ambition and passion for writing.