you want to be a writer, there’s no avoiding the fact that you have to
write. And to write, you need time and space to create and complete
People often don’t understand
why someone chooses to sit by himself
and tap out a story on his computer instead of ____________ (fill in
the blank: watching a movie, meeting friends for coffee, taking a walk,
going out to dinner, playing a board game, etc).
Remember the excitement you felt
when you first tested the waters of
being a writer? Remember the sparkling possibilities that dazzled your
vision like shiny stars in a dark sky? It seemed so exciting. The
thrill of completing that great novel or other writing project was the
dream in your heart. Hold on to that dream.
The hard truth is that when you
choose to become a writer you must
count the cost. If you spend time writing, you won’t be able to do
other things that used to occupy your days. The price you pay is
calculated in time away from people you care about and hobbies and
other activities you enjoy. But if you’re sincere about your call to
write, you’ll suck it up and get the work done.
Don’t lose sight of your writing
goal. Diana Scharf Hunt, author and
time-management guru, says, “Goals are dreams with deadlines.” If you
don’t keep your eye on the prize (a completed manuscript or articles or
blog posts), you won’t maintain the necessary motivation. Most writers
will tell you that it’s much more satisfying to have written a book
than to be writing a book. It’s work. Period. But it’s doable!
If you’re serious about being an
author, establish boundaries and
develop good habits. Here are some suggestions to guard your time and
• If you have a spouse and
(older) children in the home, speak to them
about the importance of uninterrupted writing time. Ask them to help
you be productive by giving you time to write. For example, allow your
family the opportunity to clean up and do the dinner dishes so you can
get some writing done.
• Get up a few hours before others in your household to put in some
uninterrupted time on your computer.
• Shut the door to the room where you write. If you work in a room
without a door (dining room, living room), light a candle next to your
computer to signal you are working. When the candle is burning, you’re not
to be interrupted.
• Just say no. If you don’t consider your writing time to be sacred, no
one else will either. It’s difficult to be productive when friends and
family are calling to you, both with fun pursuits and the demands of
life, but if you need to get your word count done for the day or week,
tell them that you have to work.
Do you work from home? Do you need to run to the post office? The
dentist? Want to meet a friend for coffee? Schedule all your errands
for one day. Running out of the house several times a week will eat
into your scheduled writing time.
• If you can manage it, try to eat your lunch during the first half of
your break, then spend the other half writing.
• Use a calendar. Figure out how many words per day you can comfortably
write, and mark off how long it should take you to finish your writing
project. Track your progress and watch your word count escalate!
• Use a timer to boost your output. If my productivity is lagging, I
set a timer for fifteen minutes and write at least 250 words. In an
hour, I’ll have written one thousand−plus words.
• Practice discipline. Sometimes you must force yourself to sit down
and write. Do it. Even if you write only a few hundred words, write
• Keep your goal in mind and visualize your success. Imagine how it
will feel to write “The End.” Visualize submitting your finished
project to an editor or agent. Or take it a step farther and visualize
your book sitting on a bookstore shelf.
• Set goals and reward yourself. If you write X number of words in an
hour, allow yourself a walk around the block or a decadent snack.
• Make writing a daily routine— just like brushing your teeth or
• Have an accountability partner. This doesn’t need to be a fellow
writer. A friend or relative can check on your progress and help to
keep you on track.
To be successful, you must
protect your writing time. Don’t feel as
if it’s selfish. If you’re called to write, it’s up to you to carve out
the time and space to do it. Write on, friends!