• Karen

I wish I had time to write

There are writers who are legendary for their routines. Whether it’s waking before dawn to secret away in a quiet office or spending late nights typing away at the kitchen table while the family sleeps, famous writers always seem to find a way. Of course we shine far less light on the fact that some writers chose their art over friends and family, or their own mental and physical health. Then we’ve got pages of classics written while family members, servants, or enslaved people handled all of life’s chores so the writer could work. Finding the time to write is a complex topic, and one that’s often covered in layers of secrets, class and status issues, or public relations speak.


Today, we live in a world with computers, recording and note pad apps, and speech to text technology. We’ve also got devices that allow friends, family, and bosses to contact us all day and all night. Having a “day off” depends a lot on your industry and your ability to set and hold boundaries. It’s no wonder that “I wish I had time to write” is something I hear from frustrated but established writers as well as novices with dreams of putting words on the page.


There are two big areas where we need to work as writers to find time for our craft: Strategy and Self-Care. So, what does that look like?


Sound time management strategies are the first way to address the too much ambition and not enough hours dilemma. It’s worth it to try some of the basics and see if they work for you.

  • Wake up a bit earlier, or stay up a bit later – grab a bit of writing time on the beginning or end of the day. As long as you plan for it, and it doesn’t destroy your sleep schedule, this simple fix might be all you need.

  • Examine your schedule (the famous time diary exercise) and look for wasted time or found time you may have overlooked. There’s a reason we coaches send people back to this exercise again and again—it really works in terms of seeing where your time is being used and where you have unexpected opportunities in your day or week.

  • Make writing appointments, and guard that time jealously. You might even need to tell family and friends that these are “meetings” and not your writing time to avoid interruptions. Non-writers often don’t understand the need for blocks of distraction free time, and rather than waste time and breath explaining this, just pop meetings into your life with no explanation.

Prioritize you and your creativity. No one else is going to carve out the time and space for you to write…unless you’ve got one of those legendary behind-the-genius-self-sacrificing partners or a household of servants. You must put your writing first, at least sometimes.

  • Stop dithering about being a “real writer.” If you want to write, it is a valuable use of your time. Period.

  • Remind yourself that creativity is essential to human life. We are naturally creative, and to stifle these urges leads us down a road of frustration and even sadness or depression.

  • Give yourself permission to say NO more often. Claim your writing time. At the same time, stop punishing yourself for not turning out 2000 words a day or penning the Great American Novel before a key birthday.

Writing is a process. For some of us it’s an essential process like eating, sleeping, or breathing. If this is your reality, stop fighting it. Stop wishing for time to write and make it happen. Even a few sentences a day can change your outlook and open doorways.

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