A couple of posts ago, I wrote:
I’m always going on about the things you need for a book project—mindset, good ideas, structure—but I’m realizing I never mention the elephant in the room:
You need time.
You need time to think and time to write and time to procrastinate because you’re not a writing robot.
Then I promised I’d share “tips” for finding the time. Shoulda known better. 🤦♀️
Because, today I wrote a long, prescriptive thing telling you to do less. You only have so many hours.
It’s MATH, (bro). Simple!
Except once I wrote it, it sounded kind of condescending and boring, and so I decided I’m not sending you that one.
Instead, I’ll tell you two *super-scientific* ways of thinking about time that have helped me.
1. Big chunks
2. Tiny slivers
I started writing consistently with tiny slivers of time before I moved to carving out big chunks.
Tiny slivers are those 10- or 15-minute lopped off end-pieces of time. You don’t have to use every single one of those slivers to write each day.
But what about every other sliver? Or every third sliver?
What about spending one work day counting how many slivers you have, without attempting to do anything with the slivers themselves?
OK, let’s pretend you did that already. Let’s pretend you ended up with six that day. Six slivers.
What about promising yourself that for the next seven days, you’ll write for two slivers each day?
Two slivers = Two 15-minute increments = 30 minutes of writing time a day for seven days. Three and a half hours in a week.
Or what if you write during just one sliver a day? Write for 15 minutes a day and see what comes out.
No matter how many times you use your slivers (20 times, one time, I don’t care): Pay attention to what comes out.
Does any of it delight you?
For me, the secret to allotting more time to writing has been first
1. to allot slivers of time to writing, and then
2. to discover that I ENJOY what comes out. (Whether “what comes out” is a good piece of writing or just the experience of writing.)
Buy a Roomba. Get up an hour earlier. Do every time-management trick in the books.
Those tricks don’t change the fact that the top 2 (perhaps 3) things on your list of priorities get your time consistently.
The further down the list, the less consistently the other things get your time.
That means, your writing needs to find its way UP your To-Do list. Things like laundry and guilting yourself for letting your kids watch extra YouTube need to cede rank.
Writing needs to climb over those bad boys. It’s MATH.
Enjoyment/pleasure/delight are To-Do List SEO! (Holy moly, ::runs to reserve http://todolistseo.com:: )
Anyway, when I started, writing wasn’t paying me and no one was setting me a deadline, which meant that only pleasure and enjoyment could help writing worm its way up my list.
That’s my tip.
PS: Ever wonder where I find the time to write my letter to you? I write the first draft in 45 minutes each week at Writer’s Cave. You can get 12 weeks of Writer’s Cave, and get my book Be About Something along with it, here:
It’s normally $47 but it’s on sale in June for $39. Happy Summer!