A good piece of advice to follow if you’re trying to become a well-established, productive author is to write every day. Even if it’s just ten minutes on your lunch break, you are ten minutes closer to the end of your manuscript than you were before. Progress is progress, no matter how small.
This advice is closely followed by the words “pick a time every day to write and stick to it.” Ah. For some of us it’s not always as simple as that. A good chunk of any society works shifts which change from week to week and have us altering our sleeping, eating and recreational patterns. We can’t tell you if we’re going to be free for coffee next month because our rota isn’t up yet and frankly, you can forget about weekends, we’ll definitely be working.
Our schedules get even more complicated if unexpected things come up – and they do, often. Kids getting sick, parents getting sick, significant others getting sick. We don’t get sick though, we don’t have time for that nonsense. If COVID-19 doesn’t understand this, it will soon.
So, what do we do if we don’t have a set schedule in our days/weeks? What happens if our lives are so unpredictable that snatching those moments to write are almost impossible?
The good news is, we can do it! Some days it feels impossible but with a few tips, it’s doable to write every day.
1. Plan your week, day, or hour ahead of schedule.
The key to finding time to write is blocking off all our other activities. I know my work schedule a few weeks ahead of time and that gives me a chance to chop my days up into chunks so I can prepare to write in the allocated pockets of time. Some of us don’t have that luxury and only know what we’re doing on the day, or sometimes the hour. So plan your weeks, your days, or your hours.
It can feel a bit time consuming to start with, but planning = efficiency. Also, with set time slots, we become more focused. We know when our writing shift starts and when it ends and with that in mind, it’s easier to plough on. If you need to, plan your hours ahead of time and if there’s no room in this hour? Look forward to the next one, there well may be a sliver of time to exploit.
2. Have the right equipment on hand.
This doesn’t just mean a notepad and pen, although they are essential. If physically writing isn’t an option then other equipment can help us get that word count up. Dictation software is getting more and more popular, allowing us to speak to our computers, tablets and phones and have the software write for us.
Even if dictation software isn’t an option, having a tape recorder (is my age showing?) or the modern day equivalent can be useful. Hands-free and can allow for some free-thought, dictating your books or ideas can actually be more beneficial than writing them down, sometimes.
No matter what you do or how you do it, there’ll be a way for you to write even if it isn’t by traditional means.
3. Remember to take things a day at a time.
It can be frustrating not having enough time to write but every paragraph we write takes us one step closer to finishing our manuscript. Passions are difficult to turn into sustainable work but if that is your aim, this period is just a chance for you to set up the building blocks for another life.
Don’t be disheartened by fellow author friends posting their 10k daily word counts and marvelling at how they’ve finished their manuscript in only a month. Your journey is not the same as theirs. Nothing grows at the same rate, even in identical conditions.
One day, you’ll have your breakthrough. A moment when you can honestly say you’ve finished your manuscript and you’re ready to take the next step. A day when your book will be up on that shelf or on that web page for the world to see. It’s coming, but it will take a little time.
Thanks for reading!