How to Make Time to Write (Even if You Work Full Time) by Rochelle Melander
What gets in the way of your writing? If you need support around something, send me a note and let me know: email@example.com. Who knows? I may cover your obstacle at the Write Now! Mastermind class later this month. If not, you can bet I’ll tackle it in a tip.
Today’s tip tackles another huge obstacle, and it’s one that nearly all of us face.
Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach
“I’d write a book, if I only had time.” —says nearly everyone
When I ask colleagues and clients why they haven’t written their book yet, they all say the same thing: I don’t have time.
I say it, too. With juggling my family, clients, editing projects, teaching, and blogging, I only get to my book when I have leftover time. (And guess how often that happens. Yup. Never.)
And as much as I love everything I do, I feel awful when I don’t write. And I get crabby.
Then I read Barbara Sher’s book, Refuse to Choose. She offers tools for scanners, people who can’t choose a single passion, but scan the horizon for what engages them. In this helpful resource, Sher presents several life design models that allow scanners to work at multiple passions. With Sher’s models as inspiration, I’ve created three writing life models for people who work full time jobs. See if one of these might fit your life.
The Exercise Class Writing Life Model
I’m willing to bet that you take some sort of exercise class at least once a week if not more—yoga, Spin, or Zumba. Or maybe you prefer classes in crafting or cooking. Think about what you’ve done to make time to attend that yoga class every Tuesday and Thursday from 6:00-7:00 PM. Now forget yoga and schedule your writing as if it were a bi- or tri-weekly exercise class.
The Weekend MBA Writing Life Model
Many schools offer MBAs and other graduate degree programs to working adults by squeezing the program into two years of weekends. But as a writer, you don’t need to spend money on an expensive degree. Set aside a portion of each weekend to write your book.
The Lunch Hour Writing-Life Model
This month, I’m working part time at a nonprofit as an editor. Because I need to fit in 20 hours a week into an already-packed schedule, I usually work through my lunch break. Yesterday, it occurred to me that if I did this full time, this would be the perfect time to squeeze in a little writing—because everyone else in the office is focused on their own thing. Try taking your writing to lunch today!
And the variations. Of course, you can take these ideas and play with them until they fit your work and life schedule. If you’re a teacher with summers off, you might choose to spend the summer writing. Or, if you happen to be an early riser like Anthony Trollope, you can adopt the Early Bird Writing Life Model and get all of your books written before you go to work. (By the way, Trollope learned this skill from his mother Frances who began writing at 4 AM and finished in time to prepare breakfast for her family.) Perhaps you’re better suited to writing a quick scene while your family watches a sit com in the evening.
Choose your model. Then, go for it. As I always say, do what works for you.
As an aspiring novelist who works full-time, I found this article quite intriguing. I’ve thought about the lunch hour and weekend approaches before (and have actually used them to some extent). I’ve also thought before about the possibility of using a dictation app on my phone to “write” during my 1-hour-per-day commute (30 minutes each way). I haven’t yet found an app that will stay on for 30 minutes and also transcribe what I say (Dragon apparently turns itself off after a couple of minutes and doesn’t handle pauses well). Might not work well for a novel, but I’m also working on some non-fiction and it might be more helpful for that. The output would probably not be very polished and therefore I’m not sure if it would ultimately be helfpul, but since I haven’t been able to find an app I can test yet, it’s still in the back of my mind.
Frank–thanks for dropping by. I love your thought about talking your book on the way to work. How about using a plain old recording device on your phone and then having your work transcribed? Interesting problem–if I hear of anything, I’ll post about it!
Thanks Rochelle. A transcription service is an option – I was just hoping to find something like Dragon to start with to see how well it would work to have an app that would do a rough transcription for me. If I could get something like that to work effectively, then I wouldn’t have to pay for an outside service.
Frank, if you find it, let me know. Thanks! Rochelle
I’m a single parent who works full time. I carry my jumpdrive everywhere I go. Even if it’s only 15 or 20 minutes, it’s better than nothing. I also carry a pad and jot down notes for the projects I’m working on. My first book ” I Never Wore Plaid”is only 40 pages but took about 6 months to complete. You don’t have to write for 8 hours at a shot. You’ll get there be patient!!
That’s a great idea, Joel! Thank you!
I wrote my entire novel Under a Broken Sun in the back seat of the bus to and from work every day! Now it’s available on amazon.com!
Kevin, that’s amazing. What fun!