life · NaNoWriMo · writing

Being A Writer: Finding Time

I’ve known since I was a kid that I wanted to write. I wanted to write short stories and novels and funny poems. I wanted to use my words to make people laugh and cry and find motivation to make their own words.

Since embarking on this noble journey, it feels like writing has swallowed my life, and me, whole. It frustrates the kimchi out of me on some days. It makes me hysterically happy on others. One minute I can believe I’m the best writer ever; then I think my work – and maybe me, too – should be burned.

Writing is something (career, hobby, lifestyle, whatever you want to call it) that can kick you when you’re down sometimes. But in spite of that, we writers keep going at it. In spite of school, jobs, families and friends wanting attention, and other interests, we keep going.

It can be a struggle to find the right words to write, to find the motivation to write those words, and to find the time to write those words. We all have our different ways of finding these things. A friend asked me in an email to write a post about how I did it. I immediately grabbed my shiny new notebook, a good pen, and went to work. It ended up being really long, so I’ve broken it into three chunks that I’ll be posting today, Wednesday, and Friday.

First up…


When you have inspiration and motivation, it’d be nice if you could decide to drop everything, grab your writing utensils, drive to Panera, and write until your heart’s content. But there’re a lot of things that have to come before writing for all of us. Still, you can find time. It tries to hide, though, so you may have to hunt it down.

Back in July of 2009, when I was a few weeks from starting my freshman year of college, I realized I was going to need to do some serious time budgeting if I wanted to get good grades, have some fun, write novels, and participate in and win NaNoWriMo 2009.

The first thing I did was make a list of my priorities [minus the essentials like God and spending time with my family]. It went like this 1) Mental and physical health. 2) School. 3) Household responsibilities. 4) Writing and NaNo.

(Okay, I’m lying. Number four came before number three sometimes; just don’t tell anyone!)

Things are always going to come before writing. Figuring out what those things are also helps you figure out what can come afterwards. Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize.

Before school started, I’d get up early or stay up late to write if I couldn’t get it done during the day. Having to get up at six just to make it to school on time changed that. Those two things were no longer an option, because I needed a good solid nine hours, or I’d crash and burn like a racecar car without brakes.

So, every morning I tucked my laptop in with my school books. I wrote in the ten minutes I had between classes. I wrote while I was eating lunch. Before I had my license, when my mom drove me to and from school, I wrote in the car. Little 10, 15, and 20 minute writing spots can add up at the end of the day. These moments are magic. Use them wisely.

Look – and I mean look HARD – for the things in your schedule that could be done faster, done simultaneously with writing, or pulled out of your writing schedule altogether. That hour you spend watching NCIS, Man vs. Wild (awesome shows right there! Gibbs and Bear Grylls are awesome), Fill-in-the-Blank? Bring your writing utensils and write during commercials. Don’t say you can’t write and watch TV/do whatever at the same time. Can’t is a four letter word.

With all of that said, there’s a trick that will make all of this work a thousand times better. It’s made me writer faster and spend my writing time more effectively than anything else.


Do online drills. Buy some software (Mavis Beacon is AWESOME). Learn to type words as fast as you can think them. Because then you’ll find yourself easily churning out a 1000+ words in those 15 minutes before bed. Typing is an invaluable skill. Treat it as such.

What are you still doing here? Go find out where your time is going, and make it work for you and your writing.

3 thoughts on “Being A Writer: Finding Time

  1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    I agree. Mavis Beacon is awesome. I’ll do some drills asap and be on the look out for small slots of time that I can write.

    And did I say thank you?

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