Blog by Toby Welch

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Find More Writing Time: Minutes, Not Hours


When trying to find writing time, stop thinking in terms of hours and think of minutes. Angela England, the author of 30 Days to Make and Sell a Fabulous Ebook, is a fan of using snippets of time. “I keep my document open when I’m working on a big project like an ebook. When I have five or 10 minutes, I write. Hard core, no editing, nothing but writing. I write around 100 words in five minutes fairly easily if I don’t stop to self-edit what I’m doing. And, let me tell you, five minutes here and five minutes there can really add up at the end of the day.”

England is right about that. If you find four five-minute time slots, at the end of the day you’ll have 20 minutes of writing done. In a month that would be ten hours of writing accomplished. After one year of four brief snippets a day, you will have 120 hours worth of writing done. How much would that equate in your writing realm? For a lot of writers, 120 hours of intense writing means a solid chunk of a manuscript would get done.

Snatching snippets of time is a trick screenwriter and blogger Julianne Harvey uses too, “I’ve tried to stop talking myself out of writing because I only have five minutes. I now say, "That’s five minutes more than I will have to write if I do something else right now." I think in terms of pages, as in, "I must write three pages in my memoir today and then I can relax and unwind." Then when I finish I feel a sense of accomplishment, and often carry on past that short amount, as getting started is the trick.”

Harvey shares how she finds more time to write with a 5-year-old underfoot: “I find I’m fried out in the evening and like to write as much as I can earlier in the day. I have a preschooler at home and when I need to write I let him watch TV or play games on my phone and I do as much as I can with my laptop, while expecting to be interrupted regularly. (I dream of a day when I can work without so many inane questions about the color of a hamster’s eyes or what my favorite movie was as a child.)”

Harvey continues, “When I go out of my house, I resist the urge to take my book and instead take paper and a pen or my laptop and that way I get a little extra time to write. Ditto if I have ten minutes to sit down and put my feet up in the afternoon - if I leave my book and only bring something to write, I will actually write.”

Harvey sums up her thoughts on making writing a priority in order to find time to do it, “I try to write before I do the other things on my to-do list. This is not easy for me, as working when my kitchen counters are sticky or my laundry needs to be moved from the washer to the dryer is challenging. But if I don’t make writing the first priority in my day when I can, it will be pushed and pushed until it doesn’t happen, because there are so many other things crowding in demanding attention. Writing is important to me, but it’s a never-ending struggle to keep it front and centre in my day, while still taking care of all of the other things I have to do.”