Do you want to write a book, but are having difficulty finding the time to write your story? In this book excerpt from Becoming A Productive Writer, we’ll explore how setting the right intentions and priorities can help you find the time to write your book.
Setting Intentions and Priorities Will Help You Find Time to Write
You have decided that writing is important to you. It meets a need, or it is your big dream.
Like you did earlier in this book, get clear on what you want. Where do you see yourself as a writer in six months’ time, one year, and five years?
Why are you writing?
What do you want to achieve with your writing?
These answers will give you some idea of the relative importance of writing versus your other daily activities. If you are planning to resign and write full-time within the year, you would need to be putting more intense time into it all.
Depending on your other life goals, where does writing fit into the big picture? How you prioritize it will depend on many variables.
Practical Exercise: Time Estimates
List your priorities. If you want, use this list I have provided to help. You can combine or separate them out as desired.
- Children—health, care, parenting, education, guidance
- Parents—health, care, support
- Household—maintenance, supplies, security, cleaning/chores
- Finances—current, debts, savings, future, retirement
- Rest and relaxation
- Entertainment and fun
- Friends and social activities
- Learning and studies
- Spiritual time, activities
- Health—exercise, diet
You can keep adding, depending on what your life looks like, your personal values and priorities, and what you prefer to do with your days.
Then see if you can assign an order of priority and a rough time estimate. This is a bit like your time blueprint, and you could maybe use that again here. This is not a rating of how close a thing is to your heart, but more to do with how much time in your day each priority takes up. So if you are a parent you might list work; children; partner; sleep/rest; health; and then only entertainment, learning, and hobbies. Of course, you love your partner and children, but you only have so much time to give each priority.
A fun exercise is to track how you really spend your time for about a week. Track what you are doing every half an hour and then take a look at the end to see if your estimates match up to reality. This is useful for your working life too. I have done this exercise myself, and it was an eye-opener, as my estimates were quite out of whack. The practical exercise gave me a more realistic idea of how to plan after that.
If your time estimate hasn’t overwhelmed you, now decide where you can borrow time from other activities for writing.
Perhaps you could get up a bit earlier in the morning, or use your work lunch hour. Maybe you could get into work earlier, or leave later, if you are allowed to, and spend that time writing. Dropping some TV time, ordering in dinner once or twice a week, or delegating more of the household tasks to others are all options that might work.
It’s important to dedicate time to it, and know where writing sits on your priority list, otherwise, it is easy to get home, do all your chores, and then feel so exhausted that you keep putting it off to another time. Years can go by like this.
It also helps to set aside time earlier in the day, before you get worn down by the daily grind and when you are still fresh and bright.
This productive activity will help you find your ideal time to write and help you rearrange your responsibilities based on your true values and wants.
This blog post article has been an excerpt from my book How to Become a More Productive Writer.