How to Find Time to Write a Novel Even if You Have No Time

Guys, lately I am struggling so much to find time to write. I have so much to do in a day, I’m always exhausted at night, and waking up even earlier will kill me. If that’s you, then keep reading.

1 – List everything you have to do in a day

If you’ve been hanging out here for a while, you’ll know that I’m very fond of lists. This is something I think about doing, but never go there and do it.

So, in the evening, list everything in detail of what you’ll do in the next day. If possible with the times you’ll be doing it.

It will be much easier to see when you’ll have chunks of time available to write.

2- Get your list and define three priorities for the day

After you’ve done your list, define 3 priorities of the day.

Once a week, make writing one of those priorities.

If your list has 10, 15 items and writing is just another one, it is very likely that you won’t accomplish it all, and maybe writing won’t be done. So, get it now and put writing as something you must absolutely do, like go to work, or visit the doctor appointment. At least once a week you’ll get it done. This makes writing become a priority.

3- Define the time you’ll be writing

For me, it’s lunch break. However, most days I can’t get it done even so. It’s life. If you have a defined time, at least you know that if you do get that time off, you will be writing. If I have nothing to do on lunch breaks, then I know that this is my writing time, so I won’t spend it on Instagram.

Good times for that: when you are commuting to work, during lunch breaks, and the most genius idea:

During bathroom breaks.

I know I’ll do it. Lock yourself in the bathroom and write for five minutes. Nobody will notice and you have no other option than to write because bathrooms are kind of boring.

Really, I think this is a genius idea. Better yet if combined with the blocked apps on your phone, so you’ll have no other option besides writing.

People also suggested for you to stay up late or wake up earlier. You can try that, however, I do think sleeping is important and I couldn’t waste more sleep than I already do. However, you define what works best for you!

4- Maybe you’re doing too many things at once

This one for me it’s a “most definitely yes”. What could you stop doing or cut your time on doing? Right now, I can’t think about any activities that I could not be doing to swap it with writing time. But maybe you are watching two hours of TV at night. Maybe you could watch only one hour and write the other hour? Maybe it takes too long to prepare dinner, so you could pre-prepare it on Sundays for the week and write in your spare time.

5- Block your social media apps and write in your phone

I’ll try this one. I tend to spend way too much time on Twitter or Instagram, just scrolling, thinking about nothing at all. If these apps were blocked, you wouldn’t have other option besides writing. There are some apps that block other apps on your phone.

This is what I did to start reading again. I had no time to read at all, so I deleted Instagram on my phone, and every time I felt the urge to check it, I would open the Kindle App instead, so it really helped me. You can check the full technique on how to do that and start reading again here.

Also, I bought a small Bluetooth keyboard. It is great! I find it horrible to type on my phone, so I carry my Bluetooth keyboard everywhere, connect it easily and quickly, and then I type my story.

Here is how it looks like:

It’s small and great. I take it everywhere I go, and it’s so easy to get it connected to my phone, it’s automatic.

6- Define in which app you’ll write on your phone

Something I really struggled with was that I found it difficult to write on my phone (but the keyboard solved it), and I couldn’t find a truly great app to help me. I used Word, but it is hard to get it to sync with all your devices. Now, I’m experimenting with Evernote, because when you write there, it automatically syncs and it will appear on your computer later. Google Docs also helps, although I don’t like how it looks, and it makes my phone slow.

You can also email it to yourself. Email is easy, and simple, it looks like you are working if you want to be naughty and write at work, and you can email to yourself your latest version, so you always have a backup too. I might try it.

So, define where you’ll write on your phone, so you only open it and start instead of having the temptation to do something else.

7- Get yourself a tablet

I know they are very expensive, but it is bigger than a cellphone and easier to carry around than a notebook, so you can take them with you to work and when you go outside, so you have time to write.

I have an iPad and I bought it for that. I don’t use it as much nowadays, but maybe I’ll resuscitate it and try to use it again to write. One thing that I hate about writing on cell phones is how small they are. It drives me crazy, so it may be a good idea to write on a tablet. My laptop is not that small to be easily carried around.

8 – Carry a notebook with you

If you don’t like the cellphone with a keyboard option, or the tablet, maybe a good old-fashioned notebook will do for you. For me, it doesn’t do much, because I love technology, I love that it syncs with all my devices, and I hate to write by hand. But it can be a great option if you don’t know what else to do.

It helps you to not get distracted while doing it because you know how phones are. You’ll prefer looking at the notification to writing.

9 – Always note down chunks of scenes, phrases, and characters. It is better than nothing

Don’t think that you’ll only write when you have a whole scene ready to be made. Write down ideas, phrases, scenes, and everything that pop-ups in your head. This is better than nothing, and you are already writing.

10- Always know what will happen next, so you don’t waste time planning it

This is where outlining comes in handy too. If you spend time looking at the screen or at the paper because you don’t know what will happen, you’ll waste time.

You can learn how to outline it here in this article. I think it helps for everything, from finishing a book, to beating writer’s block.

11- Plan the scenes in your head while you can’t write. Think about your story. “Write in your head”

This is also a great idea to help number 10 too. When you are at that boring meeting or changing your babies’ nappies, be writing that scene in your head. When you have time, write it down. At least you’ll already know what to do because you’ve already played in your head.
I do this all the time. It also motivates you to write because you want to get it on paper before you forget about it.

12- Record it or dictate it to your phone or recorder

Instead of writing, you can talk. You can say things and make a program transcribe them for you, or you can record yourself and write them down later.

 Nowadays, I rarely write, all I do is transcription. I dictate when I’m going to work, going to university, or going home. I use an app called Otter and I love it. You have 600 minutes free each month, which is PLENTY. You can edit on there or on the website, and it’s so great. I like it better than other apps because I can use it on my phone and on their website too.

You can try it HERE. Disclaimer: This is my affiliate link, and if you use it, I get one month free. So, help a friend out, thanks.

13- Look at your work

Just look. That’s it, no writing, no anything, just look at it. It will remind you that it is still there, waiting for you.

14- And then, write one line

One line a day will get you ended at some point. Zero lines a day will get you nowhere.

I’ll try to do this method too. At least one line a day.

15- Do at least something related to the skill of writing

This would be reading or maybe listening to audiobooks. It’s passive, easier to do, and you’ll be improving your writing even so because reading is one of the most important things for that.

Final things to remember

  • Be kind to yourself. If you really don’t have time to write, don’t. It’s all right, life changes and evolves, eventually, you’ll have time to do it, even if it takes you years. This happened to me when I was in college. I literally didn’t write at all because I was so saturated. Someday, it will pass, and you will write.
  • Set realistic goals. Maybe 1000 words per day are not that realistic to you, and that’s okay. Even one word per day is better than zero.
  • Sometimes it’s better if you don’t write every day. Writing is very hard. It is not just “sit and do it”. You have to be creative, you have to think, you have to know what is coming next. Maybe, it’s better to wait until you have a bit of a calm time, like on weekends. I do most of my writing on weekends, I literally can’t write just one phrase per day because it can feel lost and nonsense.

Thanks a lot to the #WritingCommunity on Twitter for all the amazing suggestions. I hope it helps us all in this busy, crazy world.

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