With a Scalpel or a Hatchet: Finding and Making Time to Write

Blank Page. Image courtesy of stock.xchng®Frankly, the best way I’ve found time to write is by taking online writing classes. I love them. The deadlines as well as feedback from my instructors and classmates are amazing motivators. Last fall, I was taking a creative nonfiction writing class, working full-time and co-planning a 1,400-mile move. And I was writing prolifically.

How did I do it?

  • I gave up TV.
  • I told everyone—work, family, friends, even strangers—about my class. It was my number one priority.
  • I was anti-social. Since my honey was in another city for work during those two months, I was in my favorite writing spot from 7 p.m. on Friday until I finally went to sleep on Sunday night.

It was exhausting—and exhilarating. I really pushed myself and could feel my craft muscles stretching. The thrill of being so fueled to write balanced out the loneliness and stress.

And then I moved and needed to grow my business. Finding work during the holiday season—as the news of the economy grew worse each day—was the sole occupant of my thoughts. It’s been like that most of the year, with only an essay draft here or there. Most of my non-client writing time has gone to my blog.

At least I’m still writing. That’s what I tell myself when I’ve got a blog post finished but my other projects languish, untouched. It’s not enough.

I am starting to carve out time for my writing. While I would love to take another class, I can’t really justify it. I haven’t given any attention to the work I produced in my last class—and it’s time for me to build that discipline on my own.

How will I do it?

  • Scheduling time for my writing as though I’m my own client. I am promising myself that I’ll be protective of that time. If I absolutely must change my schedule one week, I’ll make sure I still have the same number of hours to write.
  • Sharing my plans with friends and family so they know my priorities. Maybe that will also help me stick with it!
  • Setting goals. My goals will be right in front of me – every time I look up while I’m in my office, I will see what I need to accomplish in bold print.

One thing I won’t do is publicize that writing time. I’ve determined how many hours I want to carve out each week and how I want that time to look. But I’m keeping it somewhat private as a way to protect it. I want to avoid any discussion that starts with, “Well, that’s your writing time. You can move it.”

Your turn!

How do you make time to write? What keeps you motivated? Do you share your writing schedule or goals with clients/ employers? Do you have a favorite tip for making your writing a priority? Please share! The floor is yours.

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8 thoughts on “With a Scalpel or a Hatchet: Finding and Making Time to Write

  1. Recently I lost all my writing time, long story, boring, so I won’t explain.

    So with crowbar and grim determination I adopted this regime.

    Ten x 60 min daily commutes, I listen to writing podcasts or scheme plot point, characters or marketing points.

    Ten x 15min coffee breaks + 5 x 30min lunch breaks I scribble in my journal. Either blog posts, writing exercises or scenes from my MS. This only works because I have a editorial calendar for the blog and a well worked plot (that constantly gets tweaked during small breaks or in the car after a journey).

    4 hours grabbed ad hoc, late at night to transcribe scribblings and write up notes.

    An early rise on Sat before the house awakes to catch the net and update the blog.

    There is normally no time for reading, so holidays and audio books now fill that gap.

    I don’t watch TV unless it has a film or play on that I wish to study.

    I am now trying a digital voice recorder and Dragon voice to text software, in the hope I can write whilst drive and save the transcription time.

    I wish you and everyone with our challenge the very best of luck.


  2. @2inspired ~ Being surrounded (even virtually) by people who share the same goal is probably one of the best things that came from my classes! Have you had any luck extending that beyond the classroom? After an essay class I took, my classmates and I started a group so we could continue to support each other and share resources. It didn’t have the intensity of the class, but most of us are still in touch in some way or another.

    @Jenn ~ I had the same concerns about discipline when I took my first online class. The syllabus was so packed that I had no option but to get on a schedule. In addition to turning in weekly assignments, there’s usually an expectation of providing constructive feedback to your fellow students and that can really add up. I definitely relate the writer’s block! By the way, I love the newspaper-type layout of your blog. Nice work!

    @Liz ~ First, thank you for noticing the headline! I’m trying to improve them. I love that you are specific about what writing you’re going to accomplish during your time. Very smart! I think I’ll be borrowing that from you. 🙂 On a personal note, you are very impressive: a working mom with a blog who’s also working on her creative craft. Wow!

  3. Great post. I make time by using the train – I commute 30 minuets both ways and that time is for writing. I also started making a note on my writing calendar about what TYPE of writing I’m going to do on a specific commute (e.g., work on my novel — okay, start my novel; write an essay; draft for a parenting magazine). And, as a mama I stay up way too late after my boys are in bed so that I can write.

  4. I have not taken any writing classes online, although I have given it some thought. I fear that I may not be disciplined enough and cause myself extra stress trying to finish work just before a deadline. I find it hard to carve out time for personal writing projects. The past week I experienced writers block and did not post on the two blogs that I currently run. I have tried treating my work as if I were a client, but I know that I am not a client and it did not work out for me. I am still in the process of trying to fit in personal writing time without stressing myself out.

    Good luck,

  5. I recently took a class too and that really helped to up the ante for me. I think being in a class filled with others striving for the same thing (getting published) was encouraging and pushed me to really focus. That and giving myself a break after I meet a goal is very motivating.

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