What I’m writing – Time


This week I’ve been taking a lot of time out. The last two nights have been lost to Minecraft – my way of switching off. My productivity has had less burst, but I still seem to be way ahead of the targets for 100k in 100 days. It feels a bit counterintertuitive to write in bursts since I feel the whole point is to encourage daily writing. However, I find daily writing on one project doesn’t work for me. I tend to do smaller pieces and research inbetween binging on words.

Writers have two enemies: procrastination and self-doubt. These hide themselves as lack of time. We don’t want to or words on the page because it might not be what we anticipated, so we find something else to occupy our time.

Compared to some writers, I am not hugely prolific. However, I do tend to have quite large word counts, so here’s how I have so far managed to spam out a large number of words with limited time (and stop procrastination).

1) Assign time to writing and stick to it.
I’ve given myself half an hour a day and sit down and write. This method doesn’t work for me since my output is so variable. I’ve tried sitting down and writing but I obviously couldn’t write with a dirty desk, or without my laptop, or without checking Facebook first. And if I check Facebook, I have to check Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest…just so I don’t miss a thing, you know?

This method does work if you disconnect your internet connection and get your partner or child to hide your phone.

2) Write when you want.
This one works for me now, but only because I’ve been disciplined previously. I know I can get 1000 words in half an hour and I know that of those 1000 words, the first 700 or so will be rubbish. I know it takes about 600- 1200 words for me to hit the writing zone so if I want to have a good night, I need to sit down for a couple of hours. These things you learn by doing.

As you are not writing every day you can lose track of your story. When you’re not immersed, it becomes easier to become distracted. One method to try and reduce distraction with both this and number 1 is to spend a few minutes before you write your main piece jotting down what you’re going to write. Reading back over the previous day can lead to inner-editor’s loop, a dangerous obsession with correcting what you already have before you move on.

3) Write in free time.
This is my favourite. It sounds terrible and I know you’re already thinking “I don’t have free time.”

This method does not allow for being drawn into the zone, but once you’re used to it, your productivity will soar.
If you have a spare minute, you use it to write.

Here’s a list of “spare” minutes:
Waiting for school to kick out
Queuing at the supermarket
On the toilet
Whilst feeding babies
Whilst the children are eating
When you would normally watch trashy TV.
Lunchbreaks (just ten minutes of, don’t use your entire lunch break)

You’ll soon learn how many words you an do in small chunks of time. I used my phone learning this method and found I could do 200 words in a 15 minute chunk. Keep that up and you’ll soon find the words glow and you’ll have more control over when and how you write.

4) Do a challenge like NaNoWriMo.
I learnt my word count tricks by repeatedly doing these kinds of challenges. Before I did my first one, it had taken me about ten years to finish a 50,000 word first draft. No exaggeration. I used number 3 and wrote while I was feeding overnight, during naptime, waiting in the car at pre-school, in my lunch break at work, while waiting for dr’s appointments and any other precious moments I found I was sat doing nothing more than watching Jeremy Kyle on the TV.

You’re probably sick of seeing me write about it now, however, it’s good for productivity if you respond to having a bit of pressure. If the prospect of 50,000 words seems a little daunting (which is understandable if you haven’t written a large work before) then you could consider Camp NaNoWriMo, where you set your own target for the month. Having a set target forces you to prioritise your writing and make it a valid past time. This in turn makes you learn to put time aside to do it. There is no penalty for not winning, and if you’ve written some words as a result, then you’ve won.

5) Don’t edit.
Not even typos. Leave them raw and horrible on the page. Get the words out of your head and visual. It’s easier to carry on once you have something to work with than to face a blank page.

6) Don’t do housework.
It’ll still be there tomorrow and the kids are only going to come down in the morning and chuck their toys across the floor anyway. You’re writing a NOVEL and that’s much more important than having half of Toys r Us thrown over the carpet. If you have to clean,set a timer. Fifteen minutes, fly-lady style. That way you only get the most nagging problem tackled and don’t get trapped cleaning when you should be writing.

Good luck! I hope one of these works for you.


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23 thoughts on “What I’m writing – Time

  1. Good suggestions! I’ve tried 1) – stuck to it for a week but I felt so constrained! 2) – I think I need more pressure or I drift off which is why a form of 4) works for me – not proper NaNo but I did find Camp useful and I do like to set myself challenges!

    3) just doesn’t work for me because I cant type on my phone and I feel too much guilt over how much time I spend with my head down over a screen anyway. Besides which I like observing people in all those fragments of time (very nosy). 5) – oh yes, the editing loop is a dangerous beast. I do love to edit typos at the end of a burst of writing though – you go from having a load of mess and red squiggly lines on the screen to something that looks neat! It might be just as crap as it was before but it LOOKS neat. And that fact should tell you that point 6) doesn’t work for me – can’t write when it’s messy! I am loosening up though and learning the art of closing the door on a messy room!

    Lots to think about here. Thanks for linking to our lovely linky!

    1. 1) is restrictive. I can’t do it either. I tried it for a bit but… well, Facebook. 4) is a really good way of getting things started.

      There is a lot of guilt over phone time here too. I’m actually addicted.

      Don’t even mention editing. It’s a bad word.

      Thank you for being the hostess with the most-est x

  2. Great tips lovely and I wish you every success with your challenge… I’m useless at putting pressure on myself to write, I just love writing when I feel like writing if that makes sense. I get such little time to do so when I have a window and the urge there’s no stopping me 🙂 xx

    1. Thank you. You do write during nightfeeds though. I did that with one child but by child 3 I was so knackered at night time that I’d stuff him in the bed next to me and go back to sleep. Haha. How’s the urge now? x

      1. I feel like I’m constantly writing scenes in my head but just don’t have the opportunity to get them down on paper or the laptop. Need to start using the voice memo function on my phone again xx

        1. Oh, good idea! I don’t use voice nearly enough. The last time I did it was to record my daughter and I singing during an evening of music writing. x

  3. Great advice! Though I have to say I find it way easier to write productively when I’m actually writing something new, and this whole editing process is somewhat more of a challenge… I don’t know why that should be really. I’m sure the self-doubt thing has something to do with it (doesn’t it always?), and also the added pressure of actually having to make the previous draft better rather than just getting the words on the page! I’m sure I’ll get there eventually though… x

    1. Editing. Nope. Not happening. Can’t…
      It’s definitely easier starting something new. I hate puling everything to pieces because it feels like it’s never going to back together and that makes me sad. You’ll get there. xx

  4. Thanks for these. I’m the one who uses the ‘free time’ inbetween dropping the kids here and there and hanging around waiting for them. It works better if you are working on a longer project and are in the zone, not so much for a new piece.

    1. Do you stay in the zone even when you’re not actively writing? I find it really hard to keep focused when I’m not actively trying to work on it since life gets in the way. I think I probably struggle with staying there as I don’t tend to work on pieces for any considerable length of time (probably 3 months, max).

  5. Very good tips and I have tried a number of these. I mainly follow number 1 and you have to be massively disciplined with it as you know. The phone has to be muted so I don’t look at email pinging in and it’s paramount to turn off social media. I try to stay off Facebook until late afternoon if possible and I dip into Twitter occasionally during the day. Pinterest is strictly evening only. I’m a big believer that if you want to get writing done you need to be really strict about your time. But that’s just me. I’m impressed with 1000 words in half an hour! I can do about 1500 in an hour, that’s my quickest I think.

    1. With extreme typos, I mean. Perfection takes me ages!
      I definitely need to social media less and write more. I admire your discipline – normally it gets to about ten minutes in and I gt distracted by something.
      Yes, I think if you want to write something, you need to find time to do it. Time shouldn’t be an excuse. Over all, it’s an illusion caused by the other two enemies.

  6. These are great suggestions/ideas! I love #3, and laughed at your list of ways to squeeze in writing. I agree that we all probably have more “free” time than we think, and it takes discipline to figure it out and put aside say, the hour+ of trash TV or endless time zoning out on social media (so hard!) and replace it with writing time.

    1. I know! (Not procrastinating at all by playing with the blog instead of finishing blog posts and working on the novel, nu uh. Not me.) Glad it made you laugh! It’s a reminder to myself as well that I shouldn’t be using time as an excuse to not write. x

  7. I love these and for me number one is working best. So far. I have half an hour every day (almost) where I write. I turn my phone on silent and ignore all notifications (social media, texts, etc). For that 30 minutes all I think about is writing the novel, the words may be rubbish but I’m getting them out. I can fix the rubbish later. I’m hoping to finish the novel this way. You are right about the housework though, my house is tending to resemble a… I was going to say a Toys R Us store but they don’t throw their toys all over the floor do they? Well anyway, let’s just say I can’t see the carpet!

    1. Haha, I know that feeling, Morgan. So glad number 1 is working for and you’re back in the flow. You’re totally right about being able to fix the rubbish later – if I only manage to write a short burst I know it’s going to be terrible as I won’t have been able to get into the flow. Part of writing is writing badly and understanding why it’s bad. I think that’s an important lesson to learn. x

  8. Great list 🙂 I am so easily distracted… in fact I just stopped writing this comment to read a tweet…! I actually do #3 a lot for blog posts, quite often bash out a draft while waiting to pick the boys up from school, you can do a lot in a focussed 10 minutes. I think #4 works best for me, whether a target/goal or a deadline… we shall see with the 100k challenge though, not doing too well so far, blooming flu!

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