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Get More Writing Time: Find It in the Margins


What I’m Listening To: Paper Gods by Duran Duran — because, yknow Duran Duran

Something Cool: The new Broadchurch season starts next week! Squeee!


What’s your biggest writing struggle?

One of the most common things I hear from writers about why they’re not writing is that there isn’t enough time. We’re all so busy these days with professional, family, and social commitments. It’s understandable that sometimes there doesn’t seem to be enough time to write. So let’s talk about how we can write more with the time we have.

If you’re anything like I was, you feel like you need a certain amount of time that is dedicated to writing in order to get anything accomplished. I’d suggest that this is the first thing that needs to be addressed in getting writing done. And here’s how we’re going to do it!

Figure out how much writing you can do in 15 minutes

You can time yourself with a digital or analog timer, but I recommend using Write or Die 2, either the free version which can be used on the web, or the paid version, which can live on your desktop. WoD2 is better than a traditional timer, because it encourages you not to dawdle, not to sit and stare at the screen for the limited amount of time you have to write. It keeps you writing.

Set the timer for 15 minutes and get going. No pausing to ponder your next word. Just write. Once the time expires, see how many words you’ve gotten down. You might be surprised. I discovered that I can easily write 400 words in 15 minutes. I can write 500 words if I’m really in the zone, but usually 400 is my average. That shocked me when I discovered it! I’d always thought myself a slow writer. But, apparently, I was wrong.

So figure out how much you can write in 15 minutes. I’ll bet it’ll be more than 250 words. And 250 words is a whole page.

Do a little planning ahead

Plotters won’t have a problem with this, but pantsers might. If you’re a “write by the seat of your pants” type, the idea of outlining might make you nauseated. Luckily, I’m not asking you to do that 🙂

Even those who are pantsers usually have some idea of what’s going to happen in the next scene, likely in the next couple scenes. Keep a writingsingle document where you just jot down a few words about what’s going to happen next. I’d suggest adding to it after each scene you complete. Just note a sentence or two — nothing more detailed than you want to write — about the main point or plot point of the next scene. This is especially important if you’re done with your writing for the day.

Create a mobile system for your writing

So often, we’re stuck in a doctor’s office or God forbid, at the DMV. We’re all rushrushrush and then w…a…i…t. So work out a way to access information about your story from your phone or tablet. Keep your work on Dropbox or another cloud service. At the very least, keep the list we just talked about — your “Next Scene” list — in this place, so you can get to it via your mobile device.

Pull it all together

You’re pretty smart; you’ve probably already figured this out by now. Or at least have an idea of what I’m about to say.

Professional writers — the ones who live off their writing — got there because they didn’t let a little thing like not having enough time keep them from writing. You shouldn’t either.

With the things we’ve put in place, you can write anywhere, with anything. Even if you only have your phone. If you’re waiting for an appointment, you can pull out your phone, look at your “Next Scene” list, open a new document and write. Or pull out a small notebook.

If you’re driving, instead, you can open a voice recorder on your phone and record the story. When you have 20 minutes before the kids come home from school, you can open the “Next Scene” list, then start writing. And if you know that you can get 300 words in 15 minutes, you know you can write a page right then.

Are these ideal? Of course not. But they’re doable. Workable. And that’s what we’re looking for. A way to get stuff done, even if the situation isn’t ideal.

Our lives are very busy, but we also have a lot of margin — time in between obligations that is often wasted because we’re waiting for someone or something. You can use this time for yourself, to further your goals as an author. And if you can manage to squeeze just 15 minutes of writing in a day, you’ll be doing awesome! Remember:

One page per day = one novel at the end of the year.

That year is going to go by anyway. If you can find 15 minutes in the margins of each day, you’ll reach your goal. You can do it!

Do you have writing hacks that give you more time to write? Drop a note in the comments and share with your fellow writers!




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