Making Time To Write

Mark’s notes:

One page / 300 words per day.

  • Skipping one day per week plus a few extra missed days is still 90,000 words in a year. That’s a novel.
  • Most people should be able to find time to write 300 words a day.
  • As a ghostwriter, I used to regularly write between 5,000 and 8,000 a day. After some time off, I struggled to maintain a regular habit. When I started again, it was with just 250 words a day. I’m now averaging closer to 1,600 words per day.

Wake up earlier.

  • Murakami wakes up at 4am to write when he’s working on a novel.
  • Hemingway began every day “as soon after first light as possible.”
  • Vonnegut began writing at 5:30.
  • I try for at least 45 minutes of work before my kid wakes up, which usually gets my day started with 500 to 1,000 words.

Audit your Day.

  • Chuck Palahniuk wrote parts of Fight Club on a clipboard while lying beneath trucks he was supposed to be working on.
  • Break your day into 15 minute intervals and record what you’re doing in each of those intervals. Where can you dig out an extra 30 minutes of work time? Your lunch break? Dictation in the car while commuting?
  • I write a bit in the morning, a little bit while my kid naps, and if I still have words left on my goal, after she gets picked up or goes to bed in the evening. Only then do I allow myself to relax.
  • Leads into…

Establish writing as a priority.

  • Writing a novel is a big commitment. It’s important to understand where it sits in your list of priorities. If it’s near the top, things like gaming, TV, and socializing have to be balanced against your desire to write. You may need to start limiting other hobbies.
  • Some writers get caught in the trap of think of writing as work. Unless you’re on deadline with an editor, this isn’t work. It’s something you’re theoretically doing because you want to. If writing feels like too much of a chore, it’s time to re-assess the story you’re working on or your commitment to writing. [A major exception being fear of writing leading you to view it in a negative light. That’s another workshop though.]

Tell your close friends and family that writing is important to you.

  • This won’t always make a difference, but if the people around you learn to appreciate that working on your novel is important to you, they’ll be supportive if you seem to have less time for things like socializing.

Learn to focus better.

  • Do more with less time.
  • Pomodoros

Write faster.

  • Writing sprints.

Set goals and hold yourself accountable for not reaching them.

  • Daily or weekly goals by word count or length. I won’t do X activity until I finish my 300 words.
  • Find an accountability buddy. The key here is to be active about following up if they’re not reporting progress! They should be doing the same. Accountability partners don’t work if no one ever says anything when someone starts slacking off.