Friday, August 26, 2011

Do You Have Enough Time to Write?

Nobody has set hours to write. Most of us have to squeeze it in between work, family, and sleeping. I try to write during my 20-minute commute to work if I can grab a seat on the train. Aside from that, a problem I face is not having enough time to write for a session. I may have 15 minutes here or there, but it's not enough to sit down and write. It can take a few minutes to get into writing mode, and then just as I'm getting into a scene, my time is up. But recently, I've had a change of heart.

Do I not have enough time to write? Or do I tell myself I don't have enough time to write?

Convincing myself I don't have time to write is like a reverse-psychology procrastination method. Yes, writing in 10-15 minute spurts is not ideal, but we don't live in an ideal world. A writer writes. Period. End of sentence. I've read about lots of aspiring authors who write while waiting to pick their kids up from school, in the waiting room, in traffic. They may only have 5 minutes, but they do it. Two nights ago, I was cooking dinner, still had not written. But I had 10 minutes left until my food was ready. And I decided to find out what I could accomplish in those 600 seconds. Surprisingly, a lot! Maybe not as much as I could in 2 hours, but more than I assumed. In fact, because I had limited time, I didn't have time to waste to "get into writing mode." Even though my actual writing time was short, those 10 minutes got my creative wheels spinning so that when I returned to my WIP later that night, I could jump in where I left off. It's like exercise - even a few minutes a day of it has beneficial effects for hours afterwards.

When you think about it, if you add up all those 5-10 sessions during a day, you come out with some decent writing time. And when you publish your novel and people ask how you managed to do it between job/family/other, you can say with a smile "Oh, I just wrote a few minutes here on the train, a few minutes there in the doctor waiting room, and whalla! I had a novel!"

What is the shortest amount of time you've had to write and where were you?


  1. Running in the halls on my way to class...
    Oh wait, I suppose you mean fiction. Well, I need a chunk of time to really write, and my laptop rarely goes out of the house (it's just too heavy with all of the books I have to carry, too.)

  2. Even when I don´t write, I think of what I will write and how I will say it. It sometimes happens when I'm driving, riding a bike, taking a shower. As soon as I have the time to sit down, I scribble the sentences that came to my mind while I was doing other things.

  3. I am also a "spurt" writer. Not by choice of course, but if I don't take the tiny chunks of time as they come, I wind up with nothing at all.

    Glad to know I am not alone!


  4. I'm lucky enough to currently have plenty of time to write. This seems to involve looking at a blank screen quite a lot :-(

  5. This is actually the thing I struggle most with for my own writing. I'm getting married in 11 weeks (!), and have a full-time job, and have lots of family and friends close by that still want to keep up relationships. It's a difficult balance, to be sure!

  6. The shortest time I had to do some writing was a 15 minute break at work where I could actually stay at my desk and really write. I broke out my little handy dandy flash drive and linked it to my computer, brought up my MS and got a couple of paragraphs done before it was time to get back on the grind.

  7. @Jenna - Your example sounds like a scene from Saved by the Bell. Love it! Are you able to do any writing longhand, or can you only write on a computer?

    @Julia - So true! I get lots of great ideas when I'm out walking, or zoning out at a meeting. I just need to work on converting those ideas into action on my WIP.

    @Storyqueen - Hey Shelley! It's all about the spurts. Us spurt-writers (writing for spurt?) are everywhere! Welcome to the club.

    @Sarah - Blank screens are evil! They have it out to get us! Do you find the blank screen less threatening when you have less free time?

    @J - Congratulations on the upcoming wedding! I am having a very tough time with balance myself. I still haven't figured it out. I can't imagine trying to write and plan a wedding at the same time, so props to you!

    @Angela - Way to go! At an old temp job, I would get my work done quickly in the morning and then write in teh afternoon. But then caught when some co-workers complained about my loud, nonstop typing.

  8. Fantastic advice that I should just take already. I keep thinking I need to put myself in the right state of mind to write. Let's see how much I've gotten done that way...sigh. Great post!

  9. Hi! I'm in your YA/MG group for the Campaigners! I couldn't find a dedicated post to that, so I thought I'd pop in here.

    Nice to meet you! I only write when I have something to write. I can't schedule time or I will end up wasting it by finding other shiny distractions on my laptop. Usually the mood strikes in the morning after coffee :)

  10. @1000th - Wow! you're quick. I just signed up for the campaign this morning...will have a formal post up in circa 24 hrs. I used to be a morning writer, but when I wake up in winter and it's still dark out and cold, I can't get out of bed :/

  11. In a way I think I'm writing all day long, as I'm usually thinking about what I want to write or what I wrote, even when I'm not at a keyboard. It comes and goes in spurts, but I'm a bit obsessive when it comes to finishing projects, so once I start a draft, I work until it's done. Thank heavens I have an understanding husband!

  12. I actually set aside time to write (about an hour or so a day).