One of the common writing excuses for authors is lack of time. In researching this post, I polled my viewers on Instagram and of the 28 that answered, over half of them mentioned fatigue or time as their main concern.
This was also something I was concerned about when I started writing a novel, at least until I realized time and being tired wasn't what I was actually saying.
If time and exhaustion are keeping you from learning and actively writing a book, the real problem might be what you are prioritizing outside of your writing.
We're going to discuss the different ways you can prioritize writing the first draft of a novel in this blog post.
Tip #1: Decide what is more important than writing
This sounds counterintuitive, but to prioritize writing you first have to decide what are the most important aspects of your life.
For me - my family, career, and self-care come before writing. Writing is part of my career, yes, but I'm working on a long-term strategy at the moment that takes precedence. Basically, for now my 9-to-5 marketing job comes before my writing goals.
As soon as I get home from that job, I take care of my family and my personal needs first. Then comes my creative time. Things that are less important then writing at the moment include TV, exercise, epic food, YouTube, etc. I don't work on or enjoy any of these things until I've met my writing goals for the day.
Tip #2: Don't leave writing for last
If you are leaving writing for the last thing you do AFTER everything else is supposedly done - You haven't prioritized writing in your day.
If you aren't a natural night-owl, excited to write during the witching hour, then this plan won't work for you. After a full day of decisions and responsibilities, your creative well is likely already dried up.
It is not about finding time or sleeping less. If you are leaving writing as your last task, you aren't treating it like it is important.
Tip #3: Better utilize your alone time
What are you spending time doing that isn't adding value to your life?
Whether it means you are spending too much time watching TV, aimlessly scrolling on Social Media, or using cleaning as an excuse - there is something that you are doing in the day that is not necessary to your overall well being.
As a mom, I have learned quickly to prioritize time when my family is asleep. Weekend nap times, early mornings, and after 7:30 PM (when my toddler goes to bed)is where I get the most writing done.
I love participating in the #5AMWritersClub (where authors on Instagram all get up early to write together, created by Anna Vera) because it helps me focus on my writing before any other responsibilities get in my way.
To participate, I make sure that I get everything I need for the next day ready the night before and get a good night's sleep. I plan my outfit for work, pack my lunch, shower and eat dinner early so that I can relax in bed and read by 9:30 PM. I'm asleep by 10 and able to comfortably get up at 5 to write.
The best part about 5 AM is that everyone is asleep, so I only have to worry about my own needs. Before this challenge, I was getting up around 5 anyway but instead spending that time doing things I should have done the night before or scrolling on Instagram. Now it is better time well spent.
Tip #4: Create a power hour
As a busy 9-to-5er, I have a one hour lunch break. I used to spend this time watching YouTube videos while I ate, but I've since turned that into my power hour. I eat in the first 10 minutes while I think about what I want to write that day.
Pre-planning while I eat helps me focus. I often use my free Chapter Planner during this time.
Then, I put my phone upside down so I can listen to music without being bothered by notifications. This pocket of time is an asset to me, so I try to minimize distractions wherever I can.
Update: Check out my first masterclass, How to Write a Book When You Have a Full-Time Job
If you don't want to write during your lunch break, try to use it to do the errands and tasks that take up your time at home. Make phone calls, do the bills, run quick errands. Use this to the fullest so that you have more time outside of work.
Tip #5: Use calendar blocking
Setting a regular time for writing, like the power hour, helps your brain create a habit or trigger to get creative. Having a regular time that works for you keeps you from saying "I should clean instead."
In fact, creating a regular time to attack all of your daily duties helps you prioritize writing.
I spend time in the living room and kitchen with my family typically from 5:30 to 7:30 PM every weekday. I use that time to spend time with them, eat, get my son ready for bed, and help clean up. After 7:30, it's writing and creative time. Since I do this every day, my brain knows to be ready. It takes a few weeks to get into the habit and sort out the best time for you, but once you do that it's as if you are under a magic spell.
Even though I'm writing from 7:30 to 9:30, I am not leaving that time for last. This is time solely dedicated to writing, not left over "free time."
I used to spend this time watching TV, but after thinking on what was important to me, I was easily able to cut out TV and replace it with writing.
As for the big errands, they are saved for the weekends. All weekday nights are saved for creation! On the weekends I can handle everything else.
Tip #6: Learn to say no
I hope these tips have helped figure out that you actually DO have the time and energy to write. Your first step is figuring out why you haven't made it important until now.
And if after going through these tips you still feel like there isn't enough time, you need this sixth tip.
Learn to say no and "pass the buck" if you don't have to be the person in charge of certain tasks. Ask for more help with the cleaning, hire someone to do tasks for you, or just decide not to do them at all! Do I clean the shower when I am working on a new book? Heck no!
Do you need to go to that party of your third cousins? No. Not every social engagement is a requirement.
Determining what you can say no to is an important life skill.
Whatever you decide is best, I'm rooting for you.