With a few exceptions, most budding authors will, at one time or another, be faced with scheduling crises. There really is no getting around it. I am not immune to it either. With so much to do every day and a measly 24 hours to do it in, it takes a master multitasker to fit it all in. The two most time consuming parts of our days are generally work and sleep. At the recommended 8 hours each, that leaves us 8 hours to fill with things like shopping, kids, significant others, friends, family and hobbies.
Tell me, who has time to put the whole world on hold and write on top of all of that? Well, not many. I’m pretty sure that scheduling is the number two killer of new manuscripts (number one being our inner editors. See Do: Self Edit). We all get busy and SOMETHING needs to be put on the back burner and more often than not, I fear it just sits there until it is completely forgotten. Sadly, writing is the most likely to be cut off. We need to shop. Can’t live without food. We can’t put our kids on the back burner (as much as we’d love to some days). Putting relationships on the back burner tends to end in divorce (an NOBODY wants to try to get divorced and write at the same time!). That leaves writing, friends and extended family. Most are forced to say goodbye to their writing aspirations in favor of one of the many other time suckers swirling around us all day every day.
So we need to get to the root of this problem and find a solution. Without throwing our entire lives out of whack, what can we do to make time to do what we love? Well, I have good news! You have options.
First: Put down the Facebook games! Yes, it’s a nice way to unwind. We all want to sit at the computer, zone out and surf the web at the end of a long day. The average person spends 8 hours a month on Facebook (personally, I spend WAY more time than that on Facebook. Mainly because I have a job that allows me to do so, so I can maintain my author page on Facebook while I work.). For those of you short on time in your day, that’s an average of 15 minutes per day. If you type only 35 words per minute, that’s 525 words per day. On average, you’ll have about 300 words per page in your standard paperback book. So yes, it might take you a year or two to write an entire book 15 minutes at a time, but that doesn’t make you any less of a writer.
Second: Learn to multitask! We can’t miss that new episode of Glee! Or that rerun of Desperate Housewives! Or the network premier of the latest Harry Potter! Well, I hate to break it to you, but nothing is stopping you from setting that laptop on your lap and writing while you watch. If you don’t own a laptop, there are a couple of super cool inventions that have aided in the writing of thousands and thousands of books throughout history: Pen and Paper. I’ve even managed to crank out 3,000+ words on my smart phone (Google Docs) while sitting in the lobby of the dentist’s office! There ARE ways that it can be done without sacrificing your Facebook time or missing your TV shows or soccer games or cheerleading competitions or dance recitals. You can still be supermom/dad AND an author.
Third: If you’re one of the lucky few who have even a couple hours ONE DAY PER WEEK that are open and free of engagements all the time, schedule a half an hour of that specifically for writing. Find a quiet place, go through your writing rituals and close out the world. Make that time WRITING time. It takes a while to form a habit, but once that habit is formed, it’s not easy to break. Even if you only have a half an hour a week, as long as you are spending that time writing, you’re still an author.
By no means is this the end all list of ways to make time for writing, but it’s a start! I could write an entire book on time management (I’m the manager of a group home for people with disabilities… You would not BELIEVE the scheduling issues that I have due to my job!), but I don’t feel that that’s appropriate for a blog post. So give these things a shot and I think you’ll be surprised at how much you can actually get done with a few minutes here and a handful of minutes there!
If you would like to share how you overcome scheduling dilemmas, PLEASE feel free to leave a comment! I like to hear from other people who face the same things I do and hear from the people just taking that first step who find my words and the words of my readers helpful!