7 Tips for Writing When You Really Have No Time to Write

A writing friend recently asked if anyone had tips for getting writing done “in the midst of an overfull schedule.” Well, internet, I have some tips. Here are some things that have worked for me:

  1. Try to write for at least 10 minutes a day. Even if you’re busy, you can squeeze in ten minutes. Some days, 10 minutes will turn into longer. Some days, you won’t even get 10 minutes of writing done. But you will at least make some progress! (A wrote about this tip here.)
  2. Write on-the-go. Take public transit whenever possible and write while commuting. Write when someone else is driving, too, if you can get away with it. Write when you’re waiting in line. Write wherever. (See my on-the-go writing tips here.)
  3. My favorite trick (as I discuss here, 3rd tip) is keeping a small Bluetooth keyboard in my purse, syncing it with my phone, and writing with it whenever I can. This is great for me because I worry about losing or breaking my computer when I bring it places, but I never worry about my $18-on-sale Bluetooth keyboard. Plus, our smart phones are really just tiny computers — why not use them that way?
  4. Think about a scene while in the shower, doing dishes, cooking, etc. Jot it down immediately after. If you’re really busy, dictate it to your phone using voice-to-text or a voice memo.
  5. Write before bed until you’re exhausted. Then get up, get ready for bed, and write standing up at the kitchen counter (or a standing desk, or any bar-height surface) for a little longer. Standing will wake you up and give you the extra stamina you need to get a few more words down.
  6. Bargain, with yourself, your employer, or your family to buy time, or even just tasks that are less cerebral to give you time to think about your novel. Examples: Bargain with yourself by offering yourself a reward (a cookie!) for finishing a scene. Bargain with your employer by offering to go to an off-site meeting, then write on the way there. Bargain with your family by trading tasks (cleaning the gutters) for time (you get to write while your partner watches the kids).
  7. Journal about your novel if you’re really too tired to write. Journaling about writing is a gateway to actually writing — once you have your thoughts on paper, you will be all set to write the actual scene, because you’re already writing. (Here’s an example of a journal entry I might write: “Okay, I need to figure out what’s going to happen in the next scene. I think Gwen is going to take Sven to a monster truck rally. But Sven has a secret fear of giant trucks. What happened? Well, maybe, when he was a kid, he was quietly playing on the farm, when all of the sudden a jacked-up tractor came out of the woods and killed his dog, Tin. Or something like that. But he can’t tell all that to Gwen. That would be too easy, right? Instead, he starts an argument over her friendship with Glenn…” I literally just had a conversation with myself about this (horrendously hypothetical) scene, working out several details. Once I have a general plan for the scene, I would either add it to my outline or go ahead and write it.) (I wrote about this tip here.)

Those are just some ways I have managed to pack more writing into a busy schedule! What are your tricks? Can you share them?

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