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How to Make More Time to Write

Most of us are struggling to find time to write amidst the myriad of other life responsibilities. We barely have time to write, much less comment on blogs. In the last post we discussed ways to make more time for commenting. Click here if you missed it.

But how do we find more time to write, especially when blogging and other social networking pulls at our limited time?

Some writers participate in Unplug Week--one week a month when they shut off the internet and focus more on their writing. I'd love for some of you who participate to share whether you think you've gained more writing time as a result.

For me, productive writing time has to do with my self-discipline or lack of it. Whether I have three hours a day to write or five, I can easily squander my time and end up with the same word count in both situations.

My oldest son is participating in a basketball camp this summer. He's required to practice a page-long list of dribbling drills five days a week. Some days his list takes him three hours and some days only one.

When I questioned my son about this disparity, I learned that on the days it takes him longer, he stops his dribbling to shoot around. In other words he dilly-dallies. When he's focused and diligent, he gets his drills done in a timely manner. When he lacks self-discipline, his work takes him three times longer.

Lesson? If we have limited writing time, then we need to make the most of that time. Maybe we're asking ourselves the wrong question when we ask: how can we gain more writing time? Instead, maybe we should be asking ourselves: how can we make the most of the time we already have?

Words like self-discipline, diligence, and focus are the dirty words of our modern American, feel-good culture. Many of us weren't taught to work with all our energy. We never learned to focus on a task and stick to it until it's completed. And we certainly don't know what it means to deny ourselves instant gratification.

As I struggle to teach my son diligence in his work, I battle to learn the lesson too. If I can force myself to make every moment of my limited writing time really count, then perhaps I won't need more.

What do you think? Do you need more writing time? Or do you need to make better use of the time you already have?

50 comments:

  1. I just need to make better use.
    :-)
    I was raised with the word "elbow grease". LOL If the tub wasn't scrubbed good enough, we redid it. I'm thankful to my mom for giving us chores and teaching us to work hard. Now to apply it to my writing...LOL!

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  2. Great post, especially for me right now. Because while I WISH I had more writing time, I just don't. It's not an option right now. God has be as a teacher this year. Period. So I need to get a lot more disciplined and utitlize the writing time I DO have in the best possible way.

    Great stuff, Jody!

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  3. Definitely need to make more use of the time I have. Because I am so on-the-go literally every minute of the day, when I sit down to write, I get caught up in the joy of being off my feet. It becomes relaxing and then I am tempted to relax my brain as well. And because I do so much research and reference online, I need the internet up while I write...which then tempts me to "just pop over" to a blog or facebook or whatever.

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  4. I truely don't have a lot of time. Sure, there are times I could make use of what I have better, but for the most part, when I have FREE time (and this would be the time I'm not at work, no kids are jumping up and down begging for attention) I scarf up the time and write like crazy. Last weekend, Scott took the kids to the store just to get them out of my way for a few hours... and in two hours I got almost 3k words in. WOOHOO for me. But... usually I'm writing five words then breaking up a fight. Then maybe 20 more than I'm getting someone a glass of milk. You get the picture. I don't call it dilly dalliying, I call it creating writing time when I have none. (For the record, I work all day, then hubby works all evening and a good bit of the day on Saturdays. AND I have three small kids. Finding time, and getting any semblance of sleep, is SUPER SUPER tough.)

    Anyway, I say all that not to make excuses or complain. I've chosen to write and include it in my day, so I take the time I get and try to use it as best I can.

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  5. Ummmm, better use and someone to duct tape me to the chair.

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  6. Um well see....I can neither confirm nor deny that I need to make better use of my time...but it is a possibility...a small one of course ;)

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  7. Why is it so difficult most of the time to do the thing we love most..writing!?

    I'm blessed that my kids are all grown up so I don't have the demands of taking care of little ones. I'm blessed because I'm retired and no job to sap my energy and brain. I'm blessed because I have a supportive husband.

    Then why do I find it so difficult to plop myself down in front of the computer and orank out a novel in a week?!?!

    Oh yes. I have the excuses and legitimate reasons as well.

    So thanks for the pep talk. I needed it!

    Oh, by the way. This week's excuse is that my oldest son and two grandaughters are arriving within hours for a week's visit, but I can write during those times they are off doing stuff. See, I'm already beginning to discipline myself!

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  8. I need to make better use for sure! I open my computer to write... but first I need to email, check blogs, check my work website... next thing I know an hour has passed.

    I did Unplugged Week last month. It wasn't for me. It's like being on a diet. Knowing that you can't have/do something makes you want it even more. I think it actually took focus away from my writing, because half my writing time was spent squashing the desire to blog.

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  9. Oh dear, you would ask this. But I needed to hear it.

    I need more time, and I need to use my time more wisely.

    I get easily distracted, especially if I'm tired or have writer's block. And things like housework, petting the cats, eating and sleeping all interfere with my writing time. LOL!

    Seriously, though. I think creativity and lack of discipline often go together in one brain. So self discipline is something we creative types all need to work on. What helps for me most is asking God for help.

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  10. Once again, a very timely post, Jody. I need to better use the time I have. Another blogging friend is raising twins and she is able to write while at the roller skating rink with disco music blaring. I have no children at home, no outside job to go to, and yet when I do have the time, I'm blogging, emailing, tweeting, facebooking,ninging, or whatever. Focus and discipline are really what's needed. Thanks for the reminder.
    Karen

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  11. I just need to make better use of my time. I get sucked into a black hole whenever I sit down at my computer. But I would never unplug!

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  12. The key for me is a half hour. If I can sit and write for a half hour I am in it. 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. BUT 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. It is when I am in the midst of all of that... that is when it is more time vs more efficient use. Great post!

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  13. I need to make better use of my time. Sigh. Once our school year begins I become more disciplined, and hope to establish (and adhere to) a writing schedule of some sort.

    I'm intrigued by Unplug Week, Jody. Years agoo, as a family, we unplugged, calling it "electronics-free day". No TV. No computer. Just the family, board games, a fireplace, or sitting out on the deck.

    For me, I don't think it's practical to unplug for an entire week at once. But a day? I think I could go a day, but I'm absolutely certain my e-mail would taunt me, unplugged or not.

    LOL

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  14. The same as what Karen Walker said!!

    I'm retired, so I mostly get to choose how I spend my time. When we have so many interests, and get involved in so many activities, we shoot our writerly selves in the foot.

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  15. I have writing time...I just am not disciplined enough to stick to it. Instead I'm over here reading blogs!

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  16. You said it. I have the time--it is just making the most of it. I think most of us have extra time to watch TV, hang out online etc. and that could be great writing time. Like now, I need to write a good synopsis and here I sit putting it off!

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  17. DEFINITELY just need to make better use of my time. I've started using an internet-free keyboard for part of each day to help with that...

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  18. Thank you for your advice on my blog, you're awesome! And I'm glad that you're touching on this for your other readers. I definitely need to make better use of the time I do have - even though I think I could still use more time!

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  19. Definitely better use of the time I have. Working toward that end. Trying to commit to just 30 minutes a day. Seems like I should be able to give myself that much.

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  20. Put me in the "make better use" group. I'm looking forward to school starting so I'll have a block of children-free time.

    But, so I don't dilly-dally that time away, I've put new batteries into a kitchen timer and set it beside my computer. Glancing over and seeing that countdown makes me more focused. Almost like a race to see how much I can get done before the timer goes off.

    Also, I'm scheduling "breaks" - with the timer of course - to tour blogs, Facebook, email, etc.

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  21. I think my writing time is just about right. It's ideas that are the problem now, but I'm working on that,too.

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  22. Unplug week was not the answer for me. We were out of town for part of it, but even when we were home, I got zero writing done. I'm definitely one of those who needs to make better use of my writing time.

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  23. Jody, I'm another of those who needs to make better use of my time. While reading your post, I was reminded of Parkinson's Law as stated in his 1955 article in The Economist, ". . . work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." I find that to be true for me.

    I accomplish tasks far more quickly if I have an external deadline. For example, when I know a blog guest is waiting for her interview questions, I get them written pronto. However, when I'm ahead of schedule and have the leisure of more time, it can take me two to three times as long to write a set of questions. Staying focused and setting time limits is important if I want to accomplish more in less time.

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  24. It makes no sense to wish for more writing time if you're not using what you have to the fullest extent. Discipline and focus are the key ingredients whether you have one hour or all day long.

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  25. Yup, I need to use my time more wisely.

    I dilly-dally. :)

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  26. Perfect post! I'm definitely going to have to learn how to use my time more efficiently. I need to make a schedule and try to stick with it. I really want more time for my writing and that's what ends up off the list most of the time.

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  27. Hi Jody -

    I definitely need to make better use of my time. Merely unplugging for a week would not guarantee I'd get more done.

    I find the less time I have the better. Then, I know procrastination will cost me precious writing time. Hmm, I think deadlines are good for me.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  28. Jody, I definitely know I need to make better use of my time. I'm such a procrastinator! I really have to get organized with dividing my time between writing and blogging. I could write during my lunch at work but I don't and could kick myself for that . . . so much time is wasted. And when I'm on the computer I'm checking email, my Blogger dashboard, etc. . . . ACK! I just gotta get organized . . . my resolution for the fall!

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  29. I am definitely in the camp of needing to make better use of my time.

    Last night, for example, I had one hour that I told myself I was going to use for writing.

    Darned Regis Philbin and his stupid "Who Wants to be a Millionaire"...

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  30. Excellent post, Jody. I've long known I am my own worst enemy. And I have two distinct schedules: school and summer. During school, I'm extremely disciplined and get everything done and then some. Summer? It's getting done, but with slowly and with many distractions.

    I appreciate this kick in the pants.

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  31. I almost blogged on this very thing today. I need to steal more time from the day. it's there I just need to secure it for a good and noble purpose ;)

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  32. I struggle with fatigue and lack of focus. One is curable and the other is not, but I find I have to write when I am in the mood. This mood comes at extraordinary times--late at night, middle of the day, at work, weekends. Recently, it's been on the weekends. I've been working on my book on both Saturday and Sunday, but last Saturday social networking and setting up my online novella took up most of my precious morning hours of writing. I guess I am like your son in this way with drills. I need to get more regular. On the bright side, I've been progressing on my books.

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  33. Yes, you are absolutely right - not having enough time is rarely the problem, usually it is not effectively using the time that I do have.

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  34. Better use of my time.

    I definitely need to make better use of the time I already have. I have a tendency to get distracted by other things, people, cats, birds, nature. It's all a matter of focus and removing the distractions and not turning on the computer unless I'm done writing. I used to be able to multitask when I was younger and pre marriage days when I didn't have a husband or a child. Now I need to have a schedule to follow, plus a list of things to do to refer to. With my guys wanting my attention, work, homeschooling, house cleaning, cats, and life in general - it seems like there is always something that needs to be done.

    Unplugged week didn't work out for me at all. I really didn't accomplish much on those days. I have to unplug on my schedule, for a day, two or even a week, when I feel the need too.

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  35. Time management is one of those things I must work at constantly, just like exercise and eating healthy. Blogging is the new, unknown factor to me that I haven't done while working (just started back today at my day job) yet, so I'm not sure how that's going to work. I might need to adjust in some way. We'll see.

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  36. Oh yeah, the blogging, Twitter, etc. can suck up time like nobody's business. I can't believe how caught up I can get, just reading other's blog posts. Wait...that's what I'm doing right now. Uh-oh, I feel so guilty. Better get back to writing my own stuff. ;-]

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  37. I would have to say it's a combination. As someone else said, one minute I'm writing and the next I'm helping one of my kids. My quiet time to write is rare, but I don't always take full advantage of that time either.

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  38. I write when ever my two year old has nap time... so sometimes that means I don't write. I do think that blogging takes up a lot of my time, but at least I know that I will be writing something five days a week. I look at blogging as apart of my writing time. I am in no rush to finish my WIP. Memoirs can't be rushed and I need time to let things cultivate in my mind. Blogging is sheer pleasure and I am often inspired by what others write.

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  39. For me, I need better use. I realized I wrote much more when my daughter was in preschool for 2 and 1/2 hours three days a week, than now that she's in school full time.
    Makes me want to slap myself. LOL

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  40. Great post and very convicting for me. I waste time and am not all that disciplined. I am in certain areas, but out of control in others. I wonder what that says about me! lol

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  41. I think you summed it up perfectly when you said:

    "Maybe we're asking ourselves the wrong question when we ask: how can we gain more writing time? Instead, maybe we should be asking ourselves: how can we make the most of the time we already have?"

    So I ask myself - how can I make the most of the time I already have?

    Hope you're having a great week!
    Karen

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  42. I need more writing time and more quiet uninterrupted spells when I'm home. And sometimes I just need better focus.

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  43. I'm a member of the latter group. Learning to eliminate the distractions, set my butt in the chair, and write. That is also what makes me extremely happy. But just like exercise, it is difficult to get in the groove (hoping not sound too cliche)And seems if I get in the groove of writing, all else goes to hell. I'm so not organized.

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  44. This is so true it ranks up there with GRAVITY as a basic law.

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  45. This is so true it ranks up there with GRAVITY as a basic law.

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  46. Jody,two things.

    One: This is great, accurate and pointedly honest.

    Two: Mary Connealy can't figure out how to send one message on Blogger so she hedges her bets and sends two.

    Or it could have been one of her alter personalities on that second one.

    Hard to tell because the LOOK so much alike.

    ;)

    Great post.

    Ruthy

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  47. OUCH, Jody, you sure nailed my butt to the wall!! I've come to the alarming conclusion that I futz around a little too much to be as productive as I'd like. E-mails are a KILLER, so I am ALL FOR Unplug Week ... have written it down on my calendar, and the third Monday of this month, I am shutting e-mail off and writing ... God willing!

    Thanks for the inspiring post!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  48. For myself its a matter of making the most of my time. I couldn't tell you the number of times I've gotten on the computer intending to only write and ended up accomplishing next to nothing.

    My other issue is not taking the time to write things down when I think of them. I only recenlty put paper and pen by my bed, in my purse, etc. Great post!

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  49. You're so on the mark with "focus" and using our time more wisely. I'm definitely making this a priority in life and prayer!

    Great line-up of posts I missed as I lounged by the water and did absolutely NO WRITING!!! But family time was awesome!

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  50. You're so on the mark with "focus" and using our time more wisely. I'm definitely making this a priority in life and prayer!

    Great line-up of posts I missed as I lounged by the water and did absolutely NO WRITING!!! But family time was awesome!

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