Edit My Novel

Finding the Time to Write

By Cara Lockwood      

We all have incredibly busy schedules these days, and if you’re trying to write a novel while also juggling a full-time job, a family, and a social life, writing often takes a back seat. In our full-throttle life mode, finding time to write your dream novel can be nearly impossible.

I think it’s vital for every new writer to try to find at least an hour a day to devote to writing. Writing every day helps keep the story fresh in your mind so you spend less time reminding yourself of what you’ve already written. Writing every day also helps you hone your skills. But where to find the time?

I wrote my first novel, I Do (But I Don’t), while I was also working a full-time job and planning a wedding. To say that year was hectic was an understatement!  But here are some tips and tricks to carve out that extra hour a day you need to write: 

  • Unplug your Internet or WiFi or switch off your phone for an hour every day. Everyone wastes time on Facebook or Pinterest or some other social site. Spend less time stalking your high school boyfriend and more time writing! Vow to cut out or trim back social media time, and you’ll be amazed how much extra time you’ve got for writing.Don’t turn on the TV until AFTER you’ve written your hour a day. TV can wait. Once I sit on the couch, I know I’m not getting up. So, I don’t sit there and turn on the TV until after I’ve finished my writing for the day.Put writing in your schedule. If you block out time for it, you can do it. Thinking “I’ll get to it when I can” usually means “I’ll never do it.”
  • Schedule writing time on your calendar like you would a yoga class or doctor’s appointment. Write on your lunch hour. When I worked full-time, I’d often take lunch at my desk and work on my novel. And, to be honest, if it was a slow day, I might work longer on it if I could get away with it. I always did my day-job work first, but there were slow days, and instead of surfing the web, I'd pull up my manuscript.
  • Take your laptop or tablet with you and write on the go. I’ve been known to write chapters while my kids were at ballet class. Take your laptop with you, or even a journal and pen to jot down scenes. I also always take my laptop with me when I travel, so I can use the airplane time or time waiting at the gate for writing.
  • Dictate in the car. You don’t always have to use a laptop. If you’ve got a long commute in your car, get a tape recorder, or use your phone to dictate scenes or ideas.
  • And, finally, if your life is out-of-control hectic, look for ways to streamline it to give you the time you need. Out of college, I worked as a newspaper reporter and often worked sixty to seventy hours a week including weekends. I was exhausted and run-down, and hardly had any time to write my novel. Eventually, I decided my passion was fiction writing, but my life wasn’t organized to help me achieve my dream. I quit that job and found a less stressful, and less demanding marketing writing job with more regular hours that allowed me the space to write. If I never made that switch, I would have never found the time to write my first novel. If being a novelist is your dream, you need to structure your life to help make it happen. Time is never going to volunteer itself, you’ve got to make it work for you.​