by Anna Bell
Last week I wrote (or moaned) about annoying things some aspiring authors say. It seems I’m not the only one that gets cross when people say that they’d love to write a book, but don’t have time (if your comments and tweets are anything to go by). So, this week I’ve decided to share my top tips on finding the time that time to write …
1. Block time in your week
Look at your diary at the start of the week and schedule writing time. Habit is the best way to keep you writing, so try to get into a routine if possible by writing at the same time each week. Maybe writing every Wednesday would be best for you. Whatever it is, be disciplined at that time – refuse those last minute trips to the pub, or set your Sky Plus to record your favourite programmes.
2. Find snippets of time
You don’t have to write for hours at a time. Perhaps squeeze half an hour into a lunch break or go to work an hour earlier to write before you start. What about that spare 20 minutes whilst your tea’s in the oven? Sometimes I’m more productive in 20 minute windows than I am when I have hours and hours. It’s reminiscent of when you were trying to copy someone’s homework in your lunch break at school, you’re desperate to get it all done in the time you have.
3. Plot and Plans
Before you start writing, make sure you do a detailed plan of the novel – your key events and the order in which they’re going to happen. Plan your subplots and look for plot holes. Think about your characters – who they are, what makes them tick, what their hopes and dreams are etc. Once you’re sure you know how your story’s going to go, then start writing.
One of the best ways to maximise your little windows of writing time is to really plan what you’re going to write the next time you get a chance. Daydream, plan and plot in your head at times in your day when you’re not near a keyboard. Dog walks, school runs, when you’re trying to stop your toddler squeezing his head through the banister …
Have conversations with yourself in your head and work out what dialogue sounds natural. When you finally do get to tap away on the keys, it’ll be much easier than staring at a blank screen waiting for inspiration to strike.
Since having Baby Bell I can’t keep writing when my creative juices are flowing. I often have to stop and get on with my mummy duties. One of the ways I’ve managed to get around this is to bullet point the key messages of the next chapter when I finish a chapter. These list the parts of the plot, which need to be covered in that chapter, as well as the emotional impact on the character. It really helps as it means that if I get interrupted I know where I was going.
6. Don’t give up
It is hard to find the time to write. You do have to make sacrifices. Often, I would much rather be sat with my feet up, in my super tidy house, watching a box set with a glass of wine in the evenings. Instead, I’m writing in a house that looks like a bomb’s hit it! But if it’s your dream, then make it happen. The sacrifices are worth it, believe me, when you see your book on a shop shelf.
What time management tips would you give aspiring writers?