How to Make More Time in a Day

Earlier in the week, we discussed how to make time to leave comments on blogs. Rachelle Gardner touched on this in her post yesterday: "I forgot to mention scheduling time to read and comment on other blogs. If you're actively trying to build your own blog traffic, this is a necessary and valuable use of your time."

This week we also discussed how to make more time to write. We all agreed that we need to make better use of the time we have. Some of you left great suggestions, like using a timer, using an internet-free computer, getting into a daily writing routine. For most of us, we just need to plant our fickle bottoms on our chairs and chain them there.

Yet even when we're diligent, focused, and self-disciplined with the limited time we have, many of us wish we had more. I like the way Suzanne summed it up with her comment: "I could write all day. I need that first half hour to get me going. It is hard. I look out the window, stare at the keyboard, click around blogs. When I start, it is so sad to pull myself away. THAT is when I wish I had more time. That dinner wasn't calling or bathing children wasn't on my chore list. . ."

When we really love writing, we never seem to have enough time for it, especially if we've gotten into a rare focused groove when the words are flowing. We find ourselves wishing we could add a couple more hours to our writing time. But real life calls to us, hunts us down, and forces us to leave our imaginary worlds and return to earth.

We tear ourselves away and try to focus on the flesh and bone life before us, but a small piece of our heart still lingers in the imaginary world we've created. We can't keep from longing to go back, to spend more time with the characters that live in the drama of another time and place.

And yet life demands our attention. Some of us work full time outside the home. Others of us are stay-at-home-moms with one hundred and one responsibilities tugging at our time. A few of us are trying to juggle both work and family. In the midst of changing diapers, caring for a sick parent, teaching 5th graders, or calculating taxes, our eyes stray to our lap tops and our hearts yearn for our stories.

An inner conflict rages. We genuinely love real life and the imaginary, and we wish we had more time for both. Obviously, God's given us only twenty-four hours in each earthly rotation and we can't add more. So that leaves us with the option of making more writing time out of what we're given.

I'm grateful my husband is supportive of my writing. We've arranged specific times during the week when he watches the kids while I lock myself away and write. And of course, like many of you, I wake up in the wee hours of the morning to pound away at my keyboard. Gradually, I've been able to carve out more writing time.

How do you make more time in a day to write? What strategies have worked for you? Please share! We'd all love to hear!


  1. I give up sleep. *grin* I use every nook and crany of time I can get, especially on the weekend. BUT, I'm learning I still have to prioritize my kids, my job, my husband, my exercising... otherwise even while I write, I feel like a failure.

  2. As soon as my husband leaves too go anywhere, I start writing. But mostly I have to give myself a set goal and then I accomplish it. If I don't then I find myself saying I can do it anytime. Goals really do work.

  3. I'm actually in the process of tweaking my schedule to make sure writing is the priority I want it to be. This week has been difficult (lots to do, not enough hours in the day!). Knowing who I am and when I do my best work, I've decided to begin my day earlier by writing in the early a.m. when the house is quiet, before I get the kids to school and before I go to my day job. I've actually enjoyed my early morning coffee when everyone else is asleep.

  4. Jody! Thanks for the shout out!

    I am a little misty....:)

    Sadly, I am in the place right now where the writing has to be the luxury. I keep telling myself if I get the list of "to-do's" done then I can give myself an entire day to sit and focus. I have to admit, I am lucky. When I do actually focus I can spit out 10,000 words. Knowing that about the way I write is important. It helps me keep the faith. Knowing who we are and how we write is critical when we plan time. I am a chunker, so I get a lot done in chunks. Knowing that curbs my nervous need to get to the laptop! XO

  5. Excellent question, as usual. We do have to make time, or it will never find us.

    I blog for half an hour before work, on lunch break and after work, since my computer here is faster than at home.

    I write in little pockets of time while dinner or lunch is cooking. I also use the evenings from 6:30 or 7 to 8:00 or 8:30, especially if my husband is out calling on church members. I write on Saturday mornings while my hus is at Bible study, and Sunday afternoons.

    I've been saving for a laptop, which i'm giving myself for a bd present today, so plan on using my travel time to write, too.

    This is why I never clean house! LOL!

    Happy weekend, Jen

  6. Having a writing sanctuary helps the most. I have a small guest room in our house that I have converted, with the wonderful assistance of my husband, into my writing sanctuary. It has two large, bright windows that look out into the yard, a desk fully equipped, a full size bed to put my feet up on and use my adjustable laptop computer table, a Bose radio/cd player with a large selection of nature sounds and relaxing music, a vase of silk roses (my favorite flower) and my favorite miniature dollhouse collection. I keep this room organized and spotless so once I arrive in it, I can close the door and turn the rest of the world over to my caretaker husband while I write.

    Without my writing sanctuary I'd be fussing around the rest of the house, turning on tv, talking on the phone or dreaming up lists of things to do!

  7. I keep a notebook handy. That way, every spare moment, I can write if the creative juices start flowing. I've been known to whip it out in waiting rooms at doctor's offices, while my kids are getting their hair cut, and while waiting in the car line at school. Sometimes, I forget the notebook, and I write in my head. If I'm lucky, I remember the words and type them out when I get home.

  8. "We tear ourselves away and try to focus on the flesh and bone life before us, but a small piece of our heart still lingers in the imaginary world we've created."

    SPOT ON JODY! :)

    Since all the great advice I've gotten on my own blog (and now yours too!), I've scheduled an hour and a half block in the afternoon (while the kids nap/watch a video) and a 1-2 hour block after they've gone to bed at night where I will, as you say, "chain my fickle bottom to the chair".

    Thank you for sharing your's so encouraging knowing that you're a mommy to 5(!!!!!) and you're doing it!

  9. Just Do It! That's my motto. Too bad I don't listen!

  10. I would like to move to Donna's house...only kidding! Even when I block out the time to write, I'm having trouble doing it. I'm beginning three new writing projects and one of them is fiction, which I've never done and it terrifies me. I think I need to listen to Jill and "just do it."

  11. Donna, can we all move in and use your office!? I agree with Karen--it sounds heavenly!

    Love your ideas, everybody! I'm taking notes!

  12. Last night my husband and I had a talk along these lines. He's a coach and sometimes I say that I'm the football widow. Well, last night, he said he feels like the author's widower.


    I've been so focused on getting ready for the ACFW conference, that I've been too focused. I'm reanalyzing what I really need done before the conference and planning my day to get my writing done before he gets home.

    And I'm very glad school starts on Monday so I can get back into a structured routine.

  13. I'm lucky in that I can write anywhere. I also run a computer help desk so on a slow day (like this one) I can sneak a little writing in between working tickets. Sometimes, like now, I have NO tickets to work and nothing to do but write. I also write on the sofa while my boyfriend watches TV or even in the car sometimes if I'm stuck in traffic. (I always have a notepad with me.) If it weren't for the distraction of the Internet, I probably could write ten books in the time it takes me to write one!

  14. Your post was just what I needed. August kicks me around, with its lack of schedule, its boredom induced strain on the kids, and the lure of school just around the corner. I want all day to write, and I want all day to spend with my kids. Sigh...

    Have a terrific weekend!

  15. sometimes i have to get my husband in on things..."honey, do NOT let me click on this mozilla firefox icon in the next hour." :)

  16. My youngest son no longer lives with us. After spending the last thirty three years raising kids, pursuing my career, and squeezing in time to write my fiction under the radar, I can now write to my heart's content. What a luxury! I have a room of my own, (amazing), but I write a lot on my laptop in the kitchen.

  17. Hi Jody -

    I need total quiet to write. No radio. No music. No interruptions. A two-hour chunk of time also helps the words jump on paper.

    Now, this is reality. The phone rings, and a telemarketer tries to sell me an ad. A family member or friend calls with a problem. The fire siren goes off (the horn is half a block away). Every car in my area decides to pass my house, blow their horn, or crash. (I'm on a main road.)

    Maybe I should get some earplugs.

    Susan :)

  18. Krista said she gives up sleep. lol Sometimes I do as well. When everyone is in bed, including my husband, that's when I pull out my notebook and write. For some reason, that's when I feel most creative. Well, that and I have great ideas with nowhere to write them down while in the shower. It is however difficult to keep up a schedule full of late nights when your kids are needing your attention the next morning.

  19. This reminds me of what happened today. I was in a rhythm and my doorbell rang--my friend and her kids were at our door. I had forgotten I even invited them. It was hard to click that X button!

    For my first novel I wrote until late, LATE at night. Currently I find that I run to the computer every free moment I get which means I've gained 3lbs from lack of exercise and my house is in shambles. :D

    ~ Wendy

  20. I'm with Krista on the cutting out sleep and WEndy on the exercise! Neither are very healthy choices, are they? But somehing's gotta go, and it can't be God and it can't be family. So I get seven hours of sleep instead of eight, and I don't exercise nearly as much as I used to.

    I love your posts, Jody!

  21. Great post, as usual!
    I looked for your post this morning and it didn't show up. Was that because of blogger?
    Anyways, I do hope that when I get an agent or editor, hubby and I can work something out with him watching the kiddos too. In the meantime, I write at night when he's busy with something else, or at naptime. I know what you mean about being dragged away. Yesterday I was deep in writing world and my hubby came home from work at naptime and scared me SO bad. You know when goosebumps pop out all over and you scream? Yeah. It wasn't fun, though he had an annoying laugh over it. :-P
    Also, I don't watch tv really. Once House starts I'll watch that. :-)

  22. I write in crazy places at crazy times to get in my writing goal. Pediatric waiting rooms, traffic jam, waiting for my car at the car wash, at the park...

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  23. I, too, am one of those late night writers. I find once I am on started I want to finish and I can do that best late at night. I am retired and am blessed with time, but still so many other things "call" me during the day.
    thanks for your comments. I do enjoy reading what others have said.

  24. I hate to say it but lately I'm burning the candle at both ends. When school starts ideally I want to write in the morning and a share of early evening. I still don't know where blogging fits in the big picture for me. I guess I'll have to break it up in two parts day and night lol.

  25. I'm working on dividing my 24 hours into manageable chunks (or bites) for different writerly functions: blogging, tweeting, posting, working on our R&T Literary zine issues, editing, crafting poetry, researching, etc. Now, for the WIP, I need escape from home to be able to concentrate for long intense periods.

  26. It's so nice that your husband watches your children. What a sweetheart. I notice you also have diffigence.
    I am gearing up soon for another run for the prize.

  27. I try to update my blog early in the morning before I leave for work. I get home before my husband so I try to squeeze in some writing time before dinner. Weekends are usually the most productive times. I look forward to retirement when I can write whenever I want!

  28. Hey, there's a little gift for you at my blog Have a great weekend!

  29. Every Monday night is writing night, which means I leave the house after dinner, go to a coffee shop, and write to my heart's content. Sometimes this is assigned writing and not the really fun stuff, but still, I undertake it without interruption -- or at least not interruption in the form of another children wanting another glass of water. It's really been a wonderful gift. Incidentally, my husband has a night off during the week as well. That way, neither of us feels gypped. :)

  30. P.S. Make that "child" not "children." You can tell when it's late and I'm typing fast. Sorry! Thanks for another great post. :)

  31. Hi, Jody! Greetings from India! I was able to find internet access and now am visiting my blogging friends!

    I'm definitely with Suzanne--that first half hour can be so tough! But once I get to that place where everything just flows, it's really hard to pull myself away.

    For me, it's a matter of planting myself in a chair and writing, even if it's only for a short amount of time. I write a chapter at a time, so often if I feel that I don't have enough time to write one, I won't start writing. So I'm working on being more disciplined in that area.

  32. I made a schedule that divided my day into increments in an effort to find more time to write. I discovered that the available moments I had were different from than I had been scheduling.

  33. I'm fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom with three kids in school full time. So, during the school year, I tend to write most of the day that they are away, with fitting in chores as breaks.

    In the summer, though, I have to rise well before the family to get any writing and blogging in. I'm up between 5:30 and 6:00 usually--except on my official family week of holidays.

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