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Writing when you don’t have the time

There are writ­ing advice blogs every­where. Most will tell you that the best way to devel­op your skill is con­sis­tent prac­tice. And I’m sure they’re right. I look for­ward to spe­cif­ic days because I know some­thing is com­ing from some­one I fol­low (ex. @blotsandplots posts on Mon­day, @ShesNovel emails her newslet­ter on Sun­day).

It works. Hav­ing more books is proven time and again to gain you more fol­low­ers.

But what if you can’t?

For me, I drown in guilt for not writ­ing, even though I also feel guilt when writ­ing because I should be doing some­thing else. I make excus­es about being busy, and tired, and need­ing to men­tal­ly recharge … But my inner voice says that it’s all just excus­es: I should be writ­ing.

It’s true, but being busy, tired and drained is also true, and some­times I want to enjoy a hike with­out feel­ing like I should be home writ­ing.


What’s a writer to do? Ulti­mate­ly, it real­ly is up to each indi­vid­ual. Every­thing is. But, what’s best? Isn’t that the point?

1. Write what you can

It’s best to write often, even a lit­tle, because it will get eas­i­er. But stress­ing over not writ­ing will only hin­der your actu­al writ­ing time, if you’re any­thing like me because there will be more pres­sure to make up for that lost time.

2. Have a place to keep your stuff

Not every­one has a size­able desk to spread out on, or any­where qui­et in their home to write. Make the most of what you do have, by find­ing the spot with the least resis­tance to get­ting start­ed.

For me that has been leav­ing my note­books and stuff out on the din­ing table. I walk by all the time, when I’m home, so it’s a visu­al reminder as well as being ready to go when I do have time to sit.

If at home writ­ing isn’t your thing, find­ing a portable solu­tion might be. A back­pack or lap­top case that keeps every­thing togeth­er, so that you can just grab it and go.

3. Be pre­pared

I find that I can’t just sit and write, and my jobs late­ly don’t allow me the free­dom of day­dream­ing. As a result, I loose track of where I am between writ­ing ses­sions. To get back in the mind set, I look a my inspi­ra­tion pic­tures for the scene I’m writ­ing: char­ac­ter, set­ting, col­ors. I might try music to set the mood, but not often. I most often write with­out music,  but if there’s tv or talk­ing noise near­by, I’ll need some­thing to drown it out. Then, I read a lit­tle of where I end­ed and hope­ful­ly jump in.

If all that fails, maybe there’s some­thing else at work. Are you too tired to focus? Is some­thing in this scene not work­ing? When I get to this point, I step away to fig­ure out why I’m hav­ing trou­ble.

Some­times it’s because I’m think­ing of oth­er things, and jour­nal­ing will help. If it’s because I can’t set­tle myself after work, I try col­or­ing to relax and focus. What­ev­er the prob­lem, my point is to adress that rather than waste time try­ing to write if you know the words just aren’t hap­pen­ing.

Published inWriting