How I Find Time to Write

When I have a full-time job…

I work in the school system. It’s a school counselor by day, novelist by night sort of thing. However, it’s more than that. Because of my job, I have more opportunities to write than some, but I feel like everyone can make time for writing a book if they really want to. So, when you are first starting out as a writer and you have a separate full-time job, what do you do to make time to write? Below are some tips I have used to get time in which to write seven books so far.

Utilize a Smart Phone: 

I remember seeing Apple’s first press release talking about the first iPhone. I was mesmerized! I knew right then; this thing is going to change everything. It was like a Star Trek communicator had come to life. With that though, today, much of my writing is done on one of these types of devices. The “notes” section of my phone is jammed packed with notes about stories, articles I want to write, and ideas. As well as full sections of chapters that are later transferred over to my main document. This article itself was started on my smartphone. What this allows for is the use of downtime in everyday life. Everyone has moments throughout the day where they have 10 minutes here or there. Normally you might just scroll through Facebook, which I still of course do, but I also use that time to write. 

Use Screen Time:

As modern American humans, we use screens a lot. If we aren’t on our phones, we are on our computers. If we aren’t on our computers, we are watching TV or playing video games. Replace some of that general entertainment screen time with writing time. Some of this just seems obvious, but in a lot of ways, writing is just sitting down and doing it. Making the time when you think you don’t have it. Discipline is important. I have actually scheduled time to write on my calendar to make sure I sit down and do it.

Carry a Backpack:

I have a whole ethos dedicated to things I try to keep on my body and carry on my person. If you have never looked on YouTube for the acronym EDC which stands for Everyday Carry. There is a whole subculture that is nearly obsessed with the idea of what is in a person’s pockets. It’s fun if nothing else. That being said, carry a backpack, and in that backpack pack your laptop. Why? I can’t tell you the number of pages I have written while waiting in the doctor’s waiting room, or the dentist’s waiting room. My daughter goes to the Wednesday night church for teen group. My particular church doesn’t offer any classes or groups for adults on Wednesday night, and we live like thirty minutes away from our church, so my going home and coming back is silly. So I spend the time I would normally have been waiting, playing on my phone, or just sitting around; writing. That’s a solid hour and a half of uninterrupted writing time I get every week almost. Bring your laptop with you in your car, in a backpack and you will discover there are a lot of opportunities to write.

Use Vacations Wisely:

When I go on vacation, I try to utilize the experiences in a productive way. I try to experience different things; foods, historic sites, and oddities. A wide array of experiences gives the writer a full template to pull from. I’ve often told other writers to write what they know. When you pull from real things, the writing can come alive in a way that’s often unparalleled. Also, I try to find places to sit and write. For me, that’s a public place with lots of people. I know that’s not a good environment for writing for some people, but for me, that’s ideal. So I have sat on the beach writing, around a pool, in a tropical garden, etc. For me, I have summers and most holidays off due to working in the school system. That is prime time for writing for me. Many days of my summer vacation days are spent down at my local library, sitting at a table and writing. 

Create a Writing Space: 

In my house, we have three wonderful kids and I have a beautiful wife. These people make life worth living, but they also get in the way of actually getting writing done. So I have set up a little corner in our basement with a plastic table and a chair to set myself apart from the rest of the family. That way when I am there, the kids know what I am doing and tend to let me have my time. A side note: noise-canceling headphones help with that separation. I also talk with my family and explain what I am doing and what my intention is. 

So these are just a couple of the ways I work to find time to write when I hold down a full-time job. True, I do have some advantages over others, with having nearly every holiday off and summer vacation, but I think if you take the time to really think about your own time, you will find ways to get it done. J. K. Rowling wrote the original Harry Potter novel while she was a single mom working a full-time job through most of it. That gives me hope. I might not be able to pump out a thousand-page novel in a year like Brandon Sanderson, but I can get my novel done. It just might take me a little longer. Hopefully, I still have years left in my life to devote to this craft. Maybe I can even finish the full story I want to write before I leave this mortal coil. I guess we will see.

D. Michl Lowe


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