Making Time to Write – plus 7 things to do when words don’t flow
Aspiring authors often tell me that the biggest hurdle they have to overcome is making time to write. And when they do manage to block out a chunk of time, they sit in front of their computer screen and watch that blinking cursor taunt them from a blank page. Yet, as they go about their day-to-day life, ideas are constantly popping up in their head, trying to coax them to quit what they’re doing and sit down to write. The irony of this is not lost on me; I have the same issue of ideas for the perfect wording popping up when I am in the checkout queue, in the car, anywhere but in my writing space.
Even when you do manage to scribble your ideas down on paper, carving out the time to dedicate to the project can be difficult. And yes, I totally understand that when the stars do finally align and you find yourself with time to write, the ideas don’t necessarily drop in on command.
If you’re serious about this book writing thing, I’m sure you’re aware that the project is going to need some space in your busy schedule. As a busy person, you know that space doesn’t magically appear in your schedule. It’s the same with making time to write – you must make time to make it happen.
Let’s break that down so it becomes possible, not just theoretical.
Here are 3 things to consider when making time to write:
What system do you use for time management?
There are plenty of ways to manage all your appointments, such as online scheduling tools, a paper diary or a wall calendar. Whatever system you use to input time for clients, personal appointments and other commitments, include your writing project as an important booking.
If your writing is something you’re planning to fit in ‘whenever you have time’, it’s unlikely to ever get done. We all have too many things competing for our time for that to happen. Book in your writing time just as you book in any other important commitment.
How often do you want to write?
I would suggest you include your writing project in your diary at least twice a week, and more if your schedule will allow. A daily writing practice is ideal, but that’s not possible for everyone. Be realistic with how often you can commit to writing time and schedule this in. Make it a solid booking in pen, not pencil, figuratively speaking. Don’t let a sink full of dirty dishes or a work project sneakily claim they’re more important.
What time of day do your ideas most often flow?
My creative brain is best very early in the morning. When do you find it easiest to write? Schedule your ‘book time’ at the time of day that will give you the best chance of success. Block out at least an hour, or two if you possibly can. When that time comes, sit yourself down in your writing space and prepare yourself to be fully committed, to be there for this special piece of writing you want so much to create, to birth and to hold in your hands as a completed, bound, physical book. Feel how it will feel to have it completed.
Sometimes though, being a human, when you create time and sit down at your computer the ideas don’t drop in like magic. That doesn’t mean you give up and move on to another project. There are plenty of tasks within your book project that you can carry out if the words aren’t flowing.
Here are 7 things you can do when the words refuse to flow:
- Write dot points into your book plan.
- Build on some of the information already in your book plan and flesh out the dot points on any of these themes.
- Review some writing you’ve already done and tighten it up.
- Research something that needs a little more depth.
- Go through the documents stored on your computer and look for information you’ve previously written. It’s likely you’ll uncover some gold that will slot neatly into your book plan.
- Look at other book covers in your genre. Start a folder of screenshots with ideas that you like and don’t like, to start to build your cover vision and eventually share with our designer.
- Look at the internal design of books in your genre to see what you like and don’t like in the internal design. Start an inspiration folder with these also.
Here are a few final thoughts on giving yourself the best chance of being prepared when you sit down to write.
Record your ideas while they’re ‘hot off the brain’. Capturing those fabulous ideas as they float past during the day is your best opportunity to get your ideas organised. This is the best time to capture an idea as it always flows so well when it’s fresh! So, open up the audio recorder on your phone while the idea is hot and start recording whatever flows from your mouth, without editing.
You can also use audio-to-text on your phone to make it easy for you or your team to transfer into your book document later. I use the ‘Notes’ app on my iPhone and just tap the microphone button on the keyboard, although there are plenty of other ways to do this.
This is also a great way to get started if you’re struggling to type words on a page. To get the ideas out of your head, speak them into the Notes app and let it type your thoughts, then copy and paste them to your book document and tidy them up from there.
If you do find this an easier way to write, there are free online programs that will transcribe entire videos into text. Try Otter.ai if this appeals to you.
Hopefully this article has inspired you to include making time to write as part of your weekly routine.
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