As a book coach in my early days, I was too nice when my clients told me they didn’t have time for writing. I didn’t want them to feel like failures so I allowed them to feel victorious if they wrote three times a week even for just a few minutes a day. Yes, that’s better than nothing.
Those Bursts of Free Time
But strive to do better than the minimum. If you’re a writer, writing is your job. You show up for work whether you feel like it or not. You find time for writing every day. As Stephen King said, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
Write everyday no matter how much or how little you write each day. Those bursts of free moments that you discover when you aren’t even looking are gifts, stray blocks of five minutes here and fifteen minutes there that regular people consider unworthy of being utilized wisely but writers recognize as indispensable:
- When you keep a notebook or recorder by the side of your bed to capture the flashes of brilliance that come to you in the middle of the night, you are a writer.
- When you carry a notebook in your back pocket or purse at all times, because there is never a time when memorable thoughts might not enter your mind and you want to be ready to capture them, you are a writer.
- When you keep your notebook on the front seat next to you while you’re driving so that, when the perfect description to that scene you’ve been conceptualizing suddenly appears in your mind as brightly as the sun on the other side of the windshield, and you hang onto it until you get to the next stop sign or red light, then jot down a few words and phrases to expand later, you are a writer.
Your Time for Writing Nuggets
These hidden nuggets of time add up. You always have revising to do. Print out a weak chapter and carry it with you everywhere:
- Doctors’ waiting rooms (Do you really need to read their magazines from the last decade or small talk with strangers?)
- Kids’ after-school activities (Are those small-talk discussions with the other parents really that compelling?)
- In line at the grocer (No, wait; you’ve got to find out the latest tabloid gossip)
- On the bus (Make progress while being transported from here to there)
- During commercials in front of the TV (or anywhere else you sit that gives you inspiration)
What are your favorite free-moment bursts?
Give Yourself Credit
And give yourself credit for the time you write. Don’t sabotage your own efforts by saying, “I didn’t do anything today? I just edited.”
Quantity is less important than consistency. If you think you can’t write one particular day, at least have a printout of what you’re already written so you can read it at unplanned surprise opportunities. You’ll naturally edit and revise — can you even help it? — and that counts.
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This piece was adapted from Ken Wachsberger’s You’ve Got the Time: How to Write and Publish That Book in You. The complete book is available and ready to guide you here. For book coaching and editing help, email Ken at [email protected].