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Opinion: Yes, You DO Have Time to Write!

Photo of Sue Johnson as adult

Sue Johnson, living her writing dream

It’s too easy for self-publishing authors to blame lack of time for their slow progress on writing projects, particuarly if they have day jobs. But indie author and writing coach Sue Johnson reckons everyone can find the time to write if they go about it the right way and are really motivated. Here are her top tips for fitting regular writing into your busy life.

I’ve spoken to lots of people at workshops and book-signings who say: “You’re lucky to find the time to write.” The truth is that I have no more time than they have – I’ve just cultivated the habit of using the spare minutes that would otherwise just be swallowed up. If you don’t believe me, try the following experiment. Carry a notebook wherever you go and write as much as you can at the following times:

• get up five minutes earlier
• write on the train or at the bus stop
• get to work a few minutes earlier – sit in the car and write
• while you’re running a bath
• on the loo
• while the potatoes are boiling
• waiting for children to come out of school
• go to bed five minutes later
• while the TV adverts are on

Write in your head while you’re in the supermarket queue. If you’re driving, say the words aloud. Pretend you’re a performance poet.

For many people, saying they don’t have time is a convenient excuse masking the fear they feel of the blank page. I can understand this. I can remember thinking that everything I set down on paper had to be perfect first time. This ‘perfection trap’ is another outward sign of fear.

Get playful with your writing. It doesn’t always have to make sense. Watch a young child drawing pictures and see how they just enjoy the creative process.

Jot down a list of things you could write about if you’re ever stuck for an idea. For instance, you could start with: “My mother never told me…” and see where this takes you. Other ideas could include:
• a colour
• weather
• a childhood memory
• a secret
• a holiday drama

Not all writers have the luxury of a room to write in. If this is your problem you may find it difficult to find somewhere to settle. In her book Becoming a Writer’ (originally published in 1934), Dorothea Brande recommends that new writers try to write at the same time of day in the same place. This is good advice as it establishes a regular habit, but if this isn’t possible for you, then why not create your own writing environment.

Try the following ideas:

• create a sound-track that signifies your writing time – play it before you begin writing
• light a scented candle or joss stick (keep to the same fragrance)
• use aromatherapy oil – again, keep to the same fragrance
• wear a special scarf, sweater or ring

Remember:

• Write regularly – imagine you are training for a race
• Let the ideas flow
• Don’t try to create and edit at the same time – they involve different parts of the brain
• Don’t expect your work to be perfect first time
• Keep going, don’t be despondent
• Reward yourself for the effort you’ve put in

OVER TO YOU What’s your favourite way to squeeze more writing time out of your day? We’d love to hear about it!

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4 Responses to Opinion: Yes, You DO Have Time to Write!

  1. Kathleen Jones August 30, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

    I agree that writers should use of small amounts of time to work on their writing; I used to jot down ideas and read over chapters on the commute home from work. But it’s also a good idea for writers to set aside a longer period of time (1-2 hours) on a weekly basis in order to concentrate and develop their ideas more fully.

  2. Kristen Steele August 25, 2016 at 9:24 pm #

    While this approach certainly works for some people, I think what’s hard about it is that it’s such small amounts of time. Sometimes it can take longer than 5 minutes to even prepare to start writing. Of course, everyone is different.

  3. DiDi August 15, 2016 at 4:42 pm #

    Just be careful about driving in your right brain. Legal stops may disappear into your story.

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