Do you want to write a book this year but don’t know how to find the time? This is one of the most common things I get asked about. Since I am now working full time as well as being an elected councillor, finding time to write is something that is not always easy. However, it’s not impossible and I want to break some of the myths that put people off writing.
Do I need to write every day?
No! A lot of writers say you should write every day. However, I have written my seventh book and I don’t think I’ve ever gone a week where I have written every day.
If setting yourself a routine where you write between set times each day is the only way you can motivate yourself to write, then carry on. But you don’t have to. If you tell yourself you have to do something each day, it feels like work and that takes all the fun out of writing.
Although you don’t have to write every day, you do need to have some amount of self-discipline to write a book. Work out on average how many words you can write in one hour and then set weekly and/or monthly word count goals. You can dedicate your weekend mornings to writing, or a few evenings a week, depending on what works for you. I am terrible at sticking to my word count goals but writing a book will take a very long time if your only plan is to ‘find an hour here or there’.
Can I still have a social life?
Yes! Not all of us writers hate people and never want to leave the house. I’ve heard some advice that if you go out with friends once a week, reduce it to once a month if you want to write a book. I strongly disagree. Do not stop doing things you genuinely enjoy to find time to write a book because you will quickly resent it. Family and friends are important so do not sacrifice relationships to write. You might need to explain to your partner that you want a couple of evenings to yourself to write but writing a book is a hobby, not something that needs to take over your entire life.
Do I need to wake up early?
No. I’ve read recently that an author wakes up at 4am every morning to write before work, and he was suggesting others who want to write a book do the same. 4am is the middle of the night! Sometimes I’ve only just got to sleep by then. If you write better in the morning, then go for it. But if I set my alarm for 4am to write, I’m going to have fallen back to sleep before I write a sentence.
How do I make time?
I find it irritating when authors say that if writing is important to you, you will ‘make time’. Firstly, that is not a helpful answer. Secondly, they might be able to ‘make time’ in whatever fantasy world they have set their story in, but in the real world, we can’t just ‘make time’. However, every week there will be hours where you are scrolling through social media or watching TV programmes you don’t care about because ‘there’s nothing else on’. Instead, dedicate this time to writing and you’ll probably be surprised how much time you waste not doing very much every week. Yes, sometimes there will be interruptions, for example if you’re an elected councillor, someone will phone you up to complain about a tree, but the vast majority of people won’t have to sacrifice something really important or something they really enjoy doing, to write a book.
My solution? Watch less TV, Netflix and YouTube.
Everyone I know watches TV, Netflix or YouTube pretty much every day, and a lot of people watch a lot of it. Don’t stop watching TV, but I’m pretty sure you can cut down without it massively effecting your free time. You don’t have to watch another episode of Come Dine With Me and you don’t have to binge watch an entire boxset in two evenings. I am guilty of the latter, but I make sure I dedicate other evenings of the week to writing. When I focus on my writing, I’m quite sure the only thing I cut out of my life is the amount of TV I watch, and I don’t miss it.
Sound simple enough?
Watch less TV and you can write a book. That’s what I do. But … sorry, there’s always a but …once you have written a book you will then have to find time to edit it, publish it and market it, all while writing another one. And I haven’t mastered all that just yet.