How to Make More Time for Writing (Even if you're Really Busy)

In a perfect world, you’d wake up in the early hours of the morning in your clean, well-lit apartment, a mild breeze blowing through the windows as your butler served up breakfast and read your notes from yesterday’s three-hour writing workshop.

You’d slide into your robe and sip Irish breakfast tea as you contemplated the completion of your third novel, sighing a happy sigh of relief.

Oh, sorry—that’s just my perfect world.

Back to real life: you’re busy. Really busy. You’ve got freelance gigs or a full-time job, bills to pay, a body to keep in shape, pets, needy friends, a messy kitchen counter, etc.

Writing isn’t easy, and it gets harder when your schedule fills up with the chaos of daily life. Sometimes it feels impossible to sit down and get some work done—but you know you have to. Today we’re going to demystify a few ways super busy people get a ton of writing done, even when it feels impossible to stretch the clock any further.

I promise: you can do this! It just takes a fresh reality check, some planning, and perhaps a few apps.

1. Get honest with yourself about the hours at your disposal.

If you’re trying to become a full-time writer but you’re currently doing the 9-5 (or just have a lot on your plate), you may only have a couple of hours to dedicate to writing each day.

If you try to cram in more than you have time for, discouragement and frustration will pounce.

Count up the hours you actually have and don’t forget to subtract ample time for your basic self-care routine, a decent meal, and quality time with the people—and things—you care about.

This will lessen your chances of burning out while creating a more realistic schedule.

Try this: Plan your week and get literal about how much time you have. Put it on paper (or on Google Calendar) so you don’t accidentally overestimate the hours at your disposal.

Not happy with the numbers? Try eliminating unfulfilling or unnecessary things from your week to increase writing time.

2. There’s an app for that.

Are you wasting time on social media when you should be rattling away at that novel or editing your client’s new landing page?

Most of us are guilty of this. It’s hard to keep your head straight when we’re living in the age of constant distraction.

If you want to check yourself, track your activity with RescueTime to get hyper-aware of your habits. Sometimes just knowing this little gadget is watching keeps me more focused!

There are more strict extensions that will block you from browsing the internet for up to eight hours at a time, and you can turn your computer into a writing machine with WriteRoom (Mac) or DarkRoom (Windows).

Try this: Download one of the apps or extensions above and work on a project you’ve been procrastinating on. Let us know in the comments (or over in the Wi-Fi Writers Club) if they work!

3. Make writing irresistible.

Some people have a harder time “tricking” themselves into being productive. I’m one of those people, actually! I find that creating an optimal writing environment is more helpful than any hacks or tricks when I need to prioritize writing.

There are a few ways I do this, from de-cluttering and cleaning my desk to putting on some ambient music and lighting a favorite candle.

Timing also matters!  I know I get more writing done at night and early in the morning than in the middle of the day, so I try to plan around that.

What can you do to create your own perfect writing zone? Maybe it’s about plants, fresh air, or the smell of coffee brewing? Specific music? A reward at the end of the project?

Try this: Create your ideal writing environment and see if you naturally make more time for writing. Consider space, color, organization, music, aroma, and timing. All of these things can make a huge difference!

4. Get back in touch with your purpose.

Why are you writing? What are you trying to accomplish? No, seriously… answer this question. What’s the point?

If you’re writing a novel, is it to fulfill your goal of becoming a published fiction author?

If you’re writing blog posts for a client, are you dreaming of being a location independent content writer?

If you’re writing marketing copy, are you looking forward to adding an incredible new client to your portfolio?

And how about your goals for having a writing career in the first place? Whenever I feel “blah” about sitting down to bang out some writing, I remember that I’ve chosen this path so I can have more freedom in my life. I try to remember how blessed I am to be location-independent.

Try to go beyond “because I have to get this sh*t done,” and get to the heart of why you’re writing in the first place. Remembering your “why” can help bring you back to your center and get inspired again.

Try this: Write down the most immediate reason you’re writing this week. Dive deeper into that answer to reveal the result of completing the task, and what that means to you in the long term.

Once you’ve got your “why”, pin it up on your wall in front of your desk so you can glance up at it anytime.

5. Use time hacks.

As I mentioned above, this is not ideal for me, but I know writers who swear by these tactics to get stuff done!

The internet is exploding with ideas on time management and “discovering” hidden time in your day. Here are a few to try:

  1. Delegate. When you’re expending excessive energy on minutiae, it’s impossible to produce high-quality content. Do you really need to do everything yourself? Assign tasks to a virtual assistant or other writers and you’ll free up some time to focus.
  2. Write a little each day. That novel might not get done if you try to write a chapter per week… but what if you instead focused on writing 500-1000 words each day? If that sounds like too much, just halve that. The trick is to do it each day so it becomes a habit.
  3. Set alerts on your phone. When it’s writing time, it’s writing time. No excuses. Rig up alarms to sound off and keep you in check.
  4. Try the Pomodoro technique. This division and hyper-utilizing of time are popular techniques with my biz mentors Jill & Josh. I’ve used this technique successfully as well, especially when I’m having trouble focusing.
  5. Don’t waste a single minute. Commuting? Waiting for your food delivery or a friend who’s late for lunch? Bust out your phone or notebook and write! You can always type things properly later.

Finally, don’t forget that you’re human! You won’t always be motivated. There will be days where you just can’t find it in you to stare at the word processor or pick up a pen. Those days are okay—we all have them.

Sometimes you just have to step back from your work, take a breather, and go through this list again to experiment with new ways to get back into your writing groove.

With a little practice and innovation, even the busiest among us can find ways to write more.

Did you try these tips for making more time to write?

If any of these tips worked for you, we want to hear about it! Drop us a comment below.

Want to talk about time management, daily writing habits, and #thewriterslife with other writers like you? Join us in our Facebook group, Wi-Fi Writers Club

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How to Make More Time for Writing (Even if you're Really Busy) - Freelance Writing Tips


Freelance Writing Tips - Day Job Optional Newsletter

Michelle Christina Larsen is the Co-founder of Day Job Optional. Strong coffee, strong wi-fi, and absurd inside jokes are some of her favorite things. While a self-proclaimed side project addict, writing remains the ultimate focus of her life. After a decade of freelance writing in the fashion industry, she's teaching fellow freelancers how to dominate their niches and make full-time incomes online.

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