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Finding More Time to Write – 5 Strategies to Make the Most of the Time You’ve Got

Finding More Time to Write – 5 Strategies to Make the Most of the Time You’ve Got

You’re busy.

Your day is packed. You need to write, but there’s never enough time.

It’s a common writer’s lament, but what that writer usually means is there’s never enough time, in one sitting, to get much accomplished. But where is it written that a writer must have large blocks of time in order to get anything done?

Consider how many wasted minutes could be found during the day, and used for furthering your work in progress. Time is lost waiting in line, sitting in traffic, running errands, attending meetings and elsewhere.

It’s possible to reclaim some of these “lost minutes” for writing time:

1. Use your “waiting time” wisely. How many times have you stood in line at the grocery store and cruised through a handy magazine on the nearby rack? In less time than it takes to flip to page forty-seven to read about the latest UFO sighting, you could have written the snappy dialogue required for your boy-meets-girl scene.

Other places you can make use of “waiting” time are doctor’s offices, the mechanic’s, at the bus stop, school drop off and pick-up, sitting in line at the gas station, at the bank, even while on hold during a phone call. Almost any place you arrive a few moments early (or are often kept waiting) is a good candidate for “waiting” time.

To make this work, be prepared: Don’t find yourself empty handed when you have those few minutes to burn. Keep a pen and a few index cards, a small notebook, or even a folded sheet of paper in your pocket.

If you’re at home, keep your computer on all the time. A “waiting” computer leaves you no excuse to put off writing a scene or jotting down a few notes while dinner cooks or water boils for tea. Also, a few minutes may be all you need for some minor research for your project. Bonus: you’ll be less apt to waste time surfing if you’ve only got a few dedicated moments.

2. Bus rides, train commutes, taxi shuttles and flights all present opportunities to write. In fact, any travel in which you’re not driving is ideal. Whip out your notebook or laptop computer and write away. Too noisy? Carry earplugs or headphones and an mp3 player to drown out the chatter.

3. If you drive, stop lights are your friend. Keep a clipboard on the passenger seat of the car for jotting notes and scenes on when you get stopped. This method is especially useful if you’ve spent your drive-time thinking about, and planning, your story or article.

If you don’t like the idea of writing in the car, carry a small, pocket recorder and make your notes by talking aloud.

(Another great use of commute time is listening to audio books. Choose a non-fiction book, perhaps one about writing, and make notes during stop lights. Or do some necessary research while driving by listening to a book on a subject related to your work in progress.)

4. Master your meetings. Everyone attends meetings: there are those at work, club meetings, PTA meetings, Scouts meetings, etc. Few are called to order on time. Arrive a few moments early, grab the best space for writing, and write. Ignore the chit-chat around the coffee pot and other socializing. It may even be possible to write during discussion that’s not pertinent to you.

You may find it difficult to write prose while others are talking. So, spend that time outlining an article or a few scenes in your work in progress. If that fails, create a list of scenes you may need, or brainstorm some article ideas.

5. Give up something else. This isn’t so much about finding time as it is making it. If you’re schedule is so packed that you can’t find little bits of time, then you should consider giving up one activity for another. Cancel a class you’re taking, stop watching TV, don’t meet a friend for lunch or sacrifice a little sleep by setting the alarm 15 or 20 minutes earlier than usual. You can also stop cleaning the house, leave dirty dishes in the sink and mow the yard less frequently. (Or pay someone else to do it while you write. Seriously.)

There are always empty moments to be found in the day. Reclaim that time by employing one or several of the ideas mentioned and watch your progress grow.