writing tips

Want to Write More? My 5 Tips to Get More Time

Want to Write More? My 5 Tips to Get More Time | Writing Between Pauses

There are lots of reasons we get too busy to write. Housework. Real jobs. Kids. Stress. The book that's calling your name that you need to finish. Social plans. If you love to write, writing is easy to push to the side.

Why? Because it's hard. Writing is hard! Let's just admit it!

Society tends to think of writing (in the broadest sense) to be absolutely easy. We all write every single day. Text messages, emails, tweets, Facebook updates, Instagram captions. We all write, so how hard is it, really, for someone to string enough sentences together for a book or a poem or a blog post? 

The truth is, writing is hard. Mentally, it's an exercise in patience to try to squeeze what you see in your brain out onto the page. And physically, it can be challenging; you're in one place for a very long time, with 100 distractions, having to concentrate very hard and type. 

Honestly, why do any of us do this? 

So, you've come to the conclusion: you want, no, you need, to write more. It's paramount. But you've got a toddler, or you've got a full time job, or you've got a million other things on your plate and that great idea you had for a short story or a poem has been languishing for so long that the spark of inspiration isn't just a dying ember, but a little piece of charcoal. 

Here are my five tips to sneak in writing. 

1. Say it out loud

Oh yeah, you heard me. Writing: it's about sitting with a notebook or a computer and getting it out on the page. Or is it? What's to stop you from recording voice memos on your phone of lines you think of while you're in the grocery store, or waiting in the pick up line at school? Record it, save it, and return to it later when you have more than 30 seconds. 

2. Carry the notebook

This is, truly, every writer's least favorite tip, but it's true: carry the notebook with you. Honestly, just carry it. It feels pretentious, to have that little notebook in your purse or in your back pocket, but when you're waiting for coffee and get an idea--you'll think me. You'll have somewhere to put it. 

(If you don't love tiny notebooks, you can also use the Notes app on your iPhone or equivalent smartphone.) 

3. Get up earlier

The birds are singing, the sun is starting to rise earlier than before. You have more daylight hours. So why sleep through them? Waking up at 5 or 5:30 isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if you don't leave for work until 8:30, then why not spend an hour in the morning writing? Isn't that an extra hour in your day to achieve something you really, really want? 

4. Maximize the time you do have

You set aside an hour or two in the evening to write. But some nights, you spend it watching TV, browsing Twitter, or doing something else. You know you need to write, but the couch is so comfy. 

Listen, routine is everything when it comes to developing habits. If you actually want to spend the time your kids are in bed, or you don't have work responsibilities rearing their heads, then you actually have to make the habit. So, even though the couch is comfy, fix your favorite drink and head to the computer. (Just make sure your drink is on a coaster far away from your keyboard!) 

5. Ask for Time

You have a roommate who watches TV while you do the dishes, or a husband that starts working again right when he gets home. You want time to write, but you find yourself picking up the slack of others. Let me tell you: that's not going to work. Ask for the time. It's easy. "Honey, I would like an hour to go get some writing done. Can you watch the kids?" or "Hey, can you finish these dishes so I can go finish up something I'm working on?" takes 5 seconds. If asking doesn't work, demand it. "I need an hour!" you will say, going into your office and closing the door. 

If the toddler destroys the living room, you'll deal with it later. 

More Posts on Writing

How to Write Every Single Day

How to Write Every Single Day | Writing Between Pauses

Recently, I wrote about what I learned from taking on three solid months of writing challenges (you can read about it here). I also recently wrote about staying creative as an exhausted, busy mom (you can read that one here). 

You might be wondering: how will this post be any different from what one about being an exhausted mom? 

Well, I think there are a few key differences. There is a difference between making time to use your brain creatively and actively trying to write (a great amount of text) every single day. Plain and simple, that's the difference: when I first had Forrest, I had to find ways to keep myself creative, whether that meant writing or reading while I pumped or simply creating in ways that were different from before. (Again you can read that post here.) Now, when I expect myself to write consistently every single day, there are other methods I undertake--things that not just moms will relate to, but everyone who seeks to write a high volume. 

So, who is this post for? 

  • Are you a blogger who wants to produce more content? 
  • Are you an aspiring author who wants to finish a novel or hit an important deadline? 
  • Are you a writing hobbyist who just wants to get into the practice of writing even when you feel like you have nothing to say? 
  • Are you someone who isn't sure if you would enjoy writing, but like the idea of it? 

Basically: if you want to write more, I want to help you find ways to write more. Every day, actually. I want to help you find time, and discipline, to write every single day. 

The Obstacles

We've all seen the joke tweets, like this one (that isn't specifically about writing, but you get the drift). 

Does that sound familiar? Sitting down to write and instead finding yourself browsing Amazon, reading the news, browsing Twitter. I think it's fairly typical. We're all prone to distraction, especially when we aren't feel particularly inspired. 

What are some other obstacles we face, as bloggers, dedicated writers, or hobbyists? (I consider myself all three, in case you are wondering!) 

  • Distractions
  • Discipline
  • Time
  • Inspiration

How do we overcome them? 

Cutting Distractions

Every year during NaNoWriMo, this is truly my biggest obstacle; when I'm staring down a deadline, I'm definitely a flight kinda gal (instead of a fight). When the going gets tough, I get going, if you catch my drift. When a scene gets particularly sticky or I just find the scene I have to write dreadfully boring... I get distracted, I read the news, I send out a few tweets, I scroll through my Facebook groups, I change my music...

You get my drift. How can we cut out those distractions? 

  1. Turn off your internet. I'm not kidding. Turn it off!
  2. Use pen & paper. Is it slower than typing? Yes. Are you less apt to be distracted? Yes.  
  3. Download apps that restrict your websites. These apps are pretty popular among writers (just Google it); they allow you to block websites from yourself for a specific period of time. So that hour you plan to get some writing done? You can block social media websites, news sites, and more. And once the hour is up, it undoes itself. 
  4. Set a timer. And I'm not talking a timer for an hour, or however long you planned to write. Set a time for 10 minutes, stand up, stretch, and take a break. Then set it again. 

It all seems convoluted, but you won't be doing these things forever. Once you get yourself into a good pattern, you can slowly give yourself more freedom; you can start checking Twitter and then getting back to writing, because you'll have more focus.

Finding Inspiration

What are you writing about? Right now, I mean. What's the thing that's making you want to put pen to paper? 

Is it a blog post about writing every day? (I'll admit, I've taken 10 breaks writing this post already!) Is it a story you've been thinking of for years? Or do you just want to start writing essays, or poems, or short stories? 

Get Inspired | Writing Between Pauses

Finding inspiration to write every single day can be hard. Sometimes, you just won't want to work on the novel you've been plugging along with for years, or the short story that you really loved at first, but now hate to think about. Sometimes, you just won't be inspired. 

So what do I do in those moments? I turn to my handy-dandy notebook. I keep a small, pocket size notebook wth me at all times and I keep a running list of things I see throughout the day that I want to write about. Here are a few examples: 

  • The hunger of creativity
  • Dystopian society (World War Z style) 
  • A man in a flannel pushing an old woman in a wheelchair

Those are just fragments of things I think about, or see, or read about throughout the day. Things that spark a little flame of creativity, but I don't have time to explore in depth. When I don't feel like working on something permanent, or a blog post, I write in my notebook about one of my topics. I spin a yarn about someone I see. Or I write further on a topic I've been mulling over. 

Inspiration can be found everywhere. If you journey out into the world throughout the day (even digitally--you can write about a tweet you found funny, like this one, or an article you read), you have things you can at least free write about. The more you write, the more you'll be able to write. (Trust me when I say, it's all about getting into a rhythm.) In getting into this kind of creative rhythm, you'll find the discipline you thought you previously lacked. (This is basically building a habit.) 

Making Time

Now, you might be asking, when do I have time to do all this? 

You don't have to be writing for hours and hours. On average, I would say I write maybe 1-2 hours every evening... but that doesn't count all the writing I do at work (an average of 6-8 hours of pure writing and creating content at work, plus writing blog posts and social media for this little side hustle of mine). I write a lot. You don't have to write that much, I promise! 

Making Time | Writing Between Pauses

Dedicate the time you have. If you only have 30 minutes to spare in your busy day, then that's what you have. Spend those 30 minutes writing. If you want to develop a habit of writing, making time (even when you really don't want or you want to do other things) is extremely important. And it's really not as difficult as it sounds. You don't have to write in one solid chunk. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Write in your notebook during your lunch break or between classes. 
  • Write while you cook dinner, or make notes on something you want to write about during dinner. 
  • Write while watching a movie or your favorite TV show. 
  • Write on the bus or train. 

If you take opportunities to write throughout the day (or at least read and use your brain creatively), you're much more likely to continue the habit of writing when you actually want to get work done. 

What's Next? 

Start writing! You can't start a habit in one day; it's something you have to work at consistently. Once you get a good habit in place, you can modify it, drop certain things, and focus on creating something big. 

What is NaNoWriMo?

What is NaNoWriMo? | Writing Between Pauses

Oh, you thought I'd take a break after Blogtober? Well, that would probably be a good idea. Instead, I'm taking on NaNoWriMo and I plan to blog through the entire month. Wow! Also, I'm pre-writing December content for Blogmas. Uh oh, I've overbooked myself! 

It was 2010 when I decided to take the plunge and do NaNoWriMo for the first time. I’d heard of it through a few friends throughout college—I distinctly remember one of my good friends making an attempt in 2009—but I’d never committed to it myself. I knew I was better at writing short form than long form and I felt pigeon holed into that. 

However my senior year, I was living alone in a little apartment off campus without heating; I had a lot of spare time despite having a full schedule. I spent a lot of time with friends, or studying in the library, or working out in my apartment just to stay warm. I figured I might as well fill the time and take on something big, right? 

2010 was the first year I won. I won in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016 as well. I don’t think I attempted in 2011; I can’t totally remember and I can’t find any evidence of a story, that’s for sure! It should go without saying: that first novel in 2010 was bad. I distinctly remember halfway through the month losing my notes I’d written—so I suddenly couldn’t recall how old characters were, their full names, how they were related. Halfway through, it just turned into a brain dump mess. 

My novels have steadily gotten better since then. 2010 was tragic, and so was 2012; 2013 has a good idea and I remember really liking what I wrote, but reading through it recently, it is also tragic. 2014 is quite good; with a little hard work, I think it could be really good. And 2016 is my best novel yet and, funny enough, was the easiest year I can remember winning. I was always ahead on my daily work count. 

As I go into my 6th time doing NaNoWriMo, I wanted to talk about what NaNoWriMo is and why I do it. 

What is NaNoWriMo? 

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, aka November. It’s a month where writers attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. You write round 1,670 words a day. You can sign up on NaNoWriMo.org to officially commit (it’s free, don’t worry) and be verified through their word counting system. (Although, as a warning, their word counting system is always at least 4,000 words off my word documents counter! So write more than 50,000 before you verify or you’ll be mad.) 

For lots of writers, NaNoWriMo gives them a community to work on their writing skills, get inspiration and feedback, and find kinship with other people. 

Why I Do NaNoWriMo

I recently posted a thread on Twitter about how I don’t do NaNoWriMo, and I don’t write in general, with any thought of publishing. The truth is, I don’t want to be published. I used to think that was my dream, but I realize now that it’s just not something I want to pursue; I am happy to write my passion projects, the books I want to read, and leave them at the end. I love the novel I wrote last year for NaNoWriMo and even my husband says I should attempt to get it published; but I just don’t want to! It’s too personal. I write because it’s my hobby, because it’s how I motivate myself, because I need to create to feel happy. But for me, publishing isn’t the end goal. 

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? 

Is it your first year taking on NaNoWriMo? Or are you an old timer like me? I’d love to connect with you on Twitter so we can motivate each other, talk about our books, and grouse about the NaNoWriMo word counter! Follow me here and send me a note! 

5 Tips for Writing Every Day

Writing every day doesn't really seem like a challenge, does it? Not until you actually make a goal to sit down and do it. 

For 2017, I set a goal to write 600,000 words in a year. That's a lot of words. And it requires me to basically write one NaNoWriMo every month. Looking at it that way, it's incredibly overwhelming. Even breaking it down into 10,000 word short stories, I still have to write five of them. 

Why did I do this to myself again?

However, as of Saturday, I am at 22,000 words for January. That's considerably more than I thought I would have by now, thanks to rewriting and editing portions of short stories to post on Wattpad

I thought I'd share what has worked for me to help me get to writing every day (or, at least a few days a week). 

1. Set a routine. 

The most important thing for writing, for me, is to have a routine. As an example, I write most of my blog posts on Saturday and Sunday mornings; if I don't have my week scheduled out by then, most likely, it's not going to happen. (Prime example, this post was supposed to go out last Friday.) I tend to write more in the evenings as well--especially after 6 or 7pm. (This may be because that's when my son goes to bed!) 

2. Make yourself accountable. 

Accountability is a big thing. If you want to write 1,000 words a day, you need to hold yourself to it: no procrastinating, no getting out of it. Be accountable for how much you're writing and notice the patterns that form when you decide not to. 

That all being said, accountability means more than just making yourself write. It means being kind to yourself. Having a hard time? Not enjoying the story you're writing? Then, why do it? Seriously. If you hate it, fix it. If you need to take a day off, take a day off--but be ready to jump right back into it. 

3. If you don't feel like writing, editing is a good fall back option. 

There have been a few days (probably half of January, actually) where I just didn't want to write. So I worked on editing and rewriting portions of my NaNoWriMo novel! Writing from scratch is a mentally exhausting activity. So when in doubt, I work on editing something I've been working on for a while; it still accomplishes the task of "writing," but without the mental fatigue. 

4. Start as many works as you need to. 

Right now, I have about five short stories I'm working on. That seems like a lot, right? But I find that I need variety when it comes to writing. Also, I always get a really good idea once I'm running out of mental steam for what I'm working on. (Sort of like during NaNoWriMo, I always get about 100 better ideas for novels...) I let myself start a new story--or a new outline, if that's what I want to do--in the middle of working on something else, if only for the fact that it helps me actually get to writing. 

5. Tell your friends. 

Tell your friends, or your family, or your dog, that you want to write more. Ask them to talk to you about it. If you don't have friends or family that you want to talk to about writing (trust me, I understand), tell Twitter! Or Instagram! Writing communities on social media can be some of the most supportive, amazing communities out there. Community support will help you achieve your goal, because nothing is better than support.