For writers and bloggers, it feels like there’s nothing worse than sitting in front of your computer screen, staring blankly at an empty Word document waiting (oh so patiently) for the words to flow.
But there is something worse…
Never sitting down to write in the first place.
This tends to happen over and over again even to the best of us. You set your intentions to write—maybe even to write daily—and somehow, inevitably, life gets in the way. Something important comes up. Delays occur. Motivation withers. Resistance (with a capital “R”) rears its ugly head. And the story or article you were previously so inspired to write and share with the world is now a distant memory, or at best, a lingering desire pressed down underneath a very dense list of other to-do’s.
Here’s the rub—if you get into a habit of putting writing last on your list, you will never achieve your writing goals. You will never get your book published or get your blog rolling or have your poems see the light of day.
It’s more than that, though. If you have a gift for writing and you are not sharing it with the world to your full capacity, then shame on you. And if you’re thinking some statement right now that starts with one of the following phrases…
“I would, but I can’t—“
“I know you’re right, but it’s just that—“
“If I only had—“
…then you probably already know deep down what you need to do. The truth is, there are a million excuses why you can’t find enough time or energy to write, but there is really no good excuse for you not sharing what you have to offer with the world.
With that in mind, how can you find more time in your day to write? How can you put all those excuses on hold and start blazing a trail towards your ultimate goal?
Here are 7 simple and effective ways to get you started…
#1: Schedule It In
I’m guessing that all of your “top priority” tasks are currently scheduled into your calendar—the meeting with your boss, the networking event, your kid’s school play or even lunch with a friend. The likelihood of you forgetting or missing one of these scheduled events is slim.
If you’re ready to dedicate yourself to writing, start directly scheduling time for it into your calendar as if it’s no different than an important meeting.
Also, many full-time writers say that it’s helpful to establish a regular time each day to sit down and write. For me, that time is first thing in the morning. I’ve developed a routine of getting up early, exercising and then gluing my butt to the chair to knock out my writing for the day.
#2: Just Say “No”
An effective way to create more writing time in your day is to start saying “no” to the things that are eating up your time or draining your energy. For you, this might be social media, unnecessary meetings, television, distractions, answering emails, volunteering, or any number of things.
At first, it might be difficult to tell people “no” or to let go of an unproductive habit (Twitter, anyone?), but it will get easier. People understand that everyone has a limited amount of time with unlimited demands on their time. Get in the habit of guarding your energy and your time because they are two things that you can never get back.
#3: Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a useful method of time management that involves working on a task in 25 minute increments and taking 5-minute breaks. This can work wonders for writers and the only tool you need to get started is a kitchen timer (or Smartphone timer or Pomodoro app).
The good news is that most everyone can find at least 25 minutes in their day to write something. Then once you get rolling with this method, you’ll find that you can actually carve out more time with fewer distractions than you thought was possible.
Visit the official Pomodoro website to learn more about it.
#4: Set up a dedicated space for writing
When you create a dedicated space for your writing—maybe a nook in the kitchen or a desk in the back room—you will find that it is much easy to harness the time you have to work on your craft.
Creating writing rituals like this is extremely helpful for the devoted writer. Having a special writing space that you can use every time you write will help you find the time and the mental energy to sit down and knock it out on a consistent basis.
#5: Embrace fear
Making more time to write could be just a matter of overcoming a lot of the resistance and fears standing in between you and your goal. Do you have an underlying fear of failure? Fear of success? Fear of rejection?
The truth is that fear is a companion in the writer’s journey. Instead of trying to ignore those fears or eliminate them, try to embrace them. Recognize them for what they are—little voices in your head that are trying to keep you playing small in this world—and don’t let them stop you. Get in the practice of feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
#6: Make it a habit
When you turn your writing routine into a consistent habit, you will have more success with it in the long-run. Make an effort to add writing to the list of other positive habits that you’ve cultivated over the years—such as flossing, exercising, or meditation. When you first started out doing any of these habits, it wasn’t necessarily effortless, but the more you practiced it, the easier it became.
Writing is the same way—it will get easier to find time to do it if you focus on the consistency of the habit and make it part of your routine.
#7: Don’t overdo it
Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. When you have a wave of motivation, sometimes it’s easy to burn yourself out by writing during every free moment for several days. By the end of it, you’re wiped out and don’t even want to think about opening another Word document.
This is what I like to call the “crashing dieting” method of writing—you get inspired and write, write, write and then you fall off the wagon. (Then a month or two later, you repeat the cycle.)
Try to resist falling into this trap. If you want to be successful at writing (and finding more time to write) in the long-term, don’t overdo it in the short-term. Set a goal for yourself to write for a certain amount of time each day and then give yourself permission to move onto other things after that.
If you’re a writer, chances are that you’re already a creative type. Use your creativity to write the script of your own life. Take control of your time instead of letting time control you. In the end, time is your biggest non-renewable resource and you want to make sure that you’re utilizing your time to the best of your ability.