Finding That Elusive Writing Time
by Anthony Izzo
Next to people wondering where a writer’s ideas come from, the question I hear most is “How do you find the time to write?” Currently, I’m working on my 18th novel. Like many other writers, I hold a day job. With a 9-5 job, family obligations, and other responsibilities, how do you find time? I have two recommendations that will help carve out time during the day to pursue your writing.
Conduct a Time Audit
If I had to guess, I’d say the biggest time waster for most writers is television. Social media might come in a close second, at least for me. I enjoy binge-watching a good series as much as anybody, and there are some fantastic shows out there. But is gorging on Netflix helping you with your writing goals? I’d say no. This is where a time audit comes in.
I’d suggest looking at how you spend time over a two-day period. Look for times when you could be writing. For example, you might come up with something like this:
- Get up early before work. Spend a half hour writing.
- Lunch hour at work. Fifteen minutes to eat. Forty-five minutes of writing.
- Eliminate a half-hour television show at night. Write.
- Half hour before bed. Write.
That’s quite a bit of writing time available during the day. I can write about 500 words in a half-hour, which is doable for most people. Using those time slots during the day, you can pile up a lot of words. I did an audit of my own time and found I had over two hours during the day, and that’s with being in an office from 7 a.m.- 4p.m. during the week.
Put Together a Portable Writing Station
I’d also suggest taking advantage of down times, such as sitting in doctor’s waiting rooms or waiting for your kids’ sports practices to end. In order to do this, it helps to have your writing ready to go. I have an accordion-style folder in my bag I take to work. In the folder I carry 2-3 notebooks, multiple pens, story notes, photos I’ve clipped from magazines, and a plans for marketing/promotion. I typically write longhand when I’m writing in public and type it on the computer in the evening. However, you may want to carry a laptop or tablet with you.
During the day, using shorter writing sessions, you could:
- Write 1-2 pages of rough draft
- Outline your next few scenes
- Jot down ideas for your next story/novel
- Compose a blog post
The great thing about writing is that you don’t have to write in long stretches. If you can train yourself to take advantage of shorter time frames, you’ll find the words will pile up. Even spending a half-hour per day on writing can yield two pages per day (at 250 words per page). Over the course of the year, that’s two average-sized novels.
If you really want to write, take a hard look at where your time goes. I think you’ll find there is time for writing. We all tend to let that time get away from us. By conducting a time audit and making your writing portable, you can fulfill your writing goals.
Anthony Izzo is the author of 18 thrillers, among them The Dead Land Trilogy and The Damage Factory. He enjoys writing tales of mayhem involving anything from zombies to psycho killers to murderous shapeshifters. Anthony has also served as a judge for the Buffalo Dreams Film Festival screenplay competition. He recently had a story appear in the military sci-fi anthology “SNAFU: Future Warfare.” Anthony holds a B.A. in English from D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY. When not writing, he likes playing loud guitar, reading crime novels, and spending time with family. He makes his home in the Western New York Area.