How to find time to write

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There is a difference between finding the time to write, and finding the motivation to write. Or is there?

We all have 24 hours in the day. No more and no less. Look at your average day and quantify how much time you actually spend indulging. Look at your average weekend, your work week, your month, and have a rough idea of how much time you spend relaxing, watching tv, scrolling on your phone, talking on the phone with friends/family, going out to socialize [pre-lockdown obviously…], etc. There is now a focus on how much time we spend endlessly scrolling through feeds without really doing anything productive. And I’m guilty of it too. I often catch myself doing something completely mindlessly and wasting my time doodling around.

You will realize you have lots of time, but you do other things. If you really want to dedicate time to your craft, be it writing, or building a boat, or whatever it may be, you have to compromise and choose to sit down and work on your craft instead of doing something else.

Look into if you can save time by organizing yourself. Don’t go shopping and wander through the aisles looking for inspiration for dinner. Have a plan, have a shopping list, make it your goal to reduce your time. Look at utilizing the time that is basically “lost” in your daily life, like commuting/driving while doing errands. Maybe you can’t write when you’re standing in a crowded train, but you can read. You can read books in your genre, or read educational books on whatever it is you want to learn or improve in. If you’re in a car, there are audible books, podcasts and many more tools to not let that time go to waste.

The answer to both finding the time to write, and finding the motivation to write, is the same (in my opinion). Because the “magic” trick is to simply take the decision to carve that time out of your daily or weekly time and sit down and do it. How do you motivate yourself to write? Sit down and don’t let yourself get distracted and remind yourself what your goal is. Do you want to write a book? Master a new skill? Learn a new language? Then take it one day at a time and work on it little by little. And keep at it.

How to find the motivation to write

If someone tells me they would love to write a book but they don’t have the time, then I know it’s a daydream and they don’t really want to write one. Because you can always find the time, it’s the motivation that is lacking.

I’m not saying that everyone can spare 10 hours a day writing, or that everyone has the capacity to spare the same amount of time. For a lot of people the idea of writing a book is like the dream to quit your job, buy a boat and then spend the rest of your days sailing the seas and oceans. It’s a fantasy, but nothing that will become reality.

There is no ‘snap your finger’ solution and your book is written for you. The motivation for writing a book comes from setting time aside, sitting down and writing. Even if you sit in front of your computer and you can’t find the words, at least you’re trying [I’ve written a post earlier on how to overcome writer’s block].

Maybe you don’t have a lot of time, but if you can dedicate half an hour over the course of your day to write, well that’s better than nothing! Writing a book takes a long time and many, many drafts. But nothing will happen if you always make excuses and put it off. I’m too tired, my head hurts, the kids are impossible… Some days you will lose the battle; sometimes something does come up and you can’t set the time aside to write. But it’s very easy to say you’ll take a short break, and then it’s summer, you’re going on holidays, then school starts again, it’s someone’s birthday, then Christmas, then New Year’s, then spring cleaning, you move or you start a new job… There is always an excuse and that is where your dedication to the craft will be tested.

The simple truth is you need to put in the hours, put in the effort, and write words on a blank page. And since you’re doing this without getting paid (at least in the beginning) and it takes a long time to see a finished product, it requires even more self-control and dedication to see it through. It can be very frustrating at times. I remember days where I sat for hours in front of my laptop, trying to focus and think of the next chapter, and after hours of pacing in front of the screen, re-reading the last sentences I wrote, reading my ideas and imagining the scene in front of me, I’ve written one single sentence. It’s easy to feel defeated and give up, but that one sentence is one more sentence than you had yesterday and one sentence closer to the end. So you keep going. One sentence at a time.

So what’s the magic formula to find the motivation to write? Sitting down and writing words on a blank page, and keep at it until the book is finished.