There’s Just No Write Time

by Adam Woodworth

Finding the time to sit down and write can be challenging, if not impossible. I run a small non-profit organization, serve on my local school board, volunteer for the Children's Neurobiological Solutions Foundation, write a monthly column for theJoliet Herald newspaper and I am on the board of the Chamber of Commerce. If that were not enough, I have wife and two children, with my oldest being involved in a variety of special Olympic sports, band, art club, and horseback riding. With all of this, I sometimes wonder how I find the time to write.

The answer is not as complicated as it seems. It's simply a matter of organization and attitude.

Busy people, now more than ever, rely on our calendars. Running from meeting to meeting and activity to activity has to be treated like a marathon, and not a sprint. On those days that it feels like a sprint, I know that I did not plan my day accordingly and something has to give in that days' plans... and it is usually the writing. But, if you want to get organized as a writer, here are seven things that I have found some success in:

  1. Purchase a calendar. This seems very simple, but the facts remain... if you don't have a calendar, get one. Use it to plan your days accordingly, always putting in time to do nothing but write. I have a Palm Pilot which links right to my work computer that I synchronize once or twice daily with just a push of a button.
  2. Use a timer. Tell yourself that in 30 minutes, no matter what, that you are going to sit down and write. It's okay to set a timer as it can help keep you on task. Then, when you sit down to write, set that timer for 30 minutes (or whatever you are comforatble with). Write for that long and then stop. By limiting the time I sit down to write, I don't feel guilty about those "other" things I should be doing.
  3. Wait until it is quiet to write. For me, that quiet time hits somewhere between 9pm and 11pm when my wife goes to bed. I turn off the television, sit on the couch, and just let the words flow from my fingertips as I peck away at my computer. A local forest preserve or even the library can be other places to turn to where you may find some peace and quiet.
  4. Set small goals and then reward yourself. Give yourself a small reward for hitting certain milestones. Maybe once you hit 40,000 words on your manuscript, you take yourself out for ice cream. Setting these small goals helps you to keep on track. Now, if you are sitting there and have hit writer's block, don't force it. Just adjust your calendar and come back to it later.
  5. Always keep a small notepad on you. I can't tell you how many times I was out to dinner, riding in a car, or at a business meeting when an idea struck. Rather than try to remember it later, I pull out my Palm Pilot and jot down so that I don't forget it. I've been known to carry a small tape recorder with me in the car in case an idea comes to me. Don't write and drive.
  6. Take advantage of free time. How many times do you have to drop your child off at a practice or program only to sit and wait for her to get done? You can lock in 30-45 minutes of writing time while you wait. Commute on the train or carpool where you aren't always driving? Now you've picked up some additional writing time. Heading somewhere with your spouse or significant other? Let them drive while you write.
  7. Don't get frustrated over lack time. This is a lot easier said than done, because we are all so busy. It's important to allow yourself the time to write and it is equally important accept that sometimes you just won't have time.

I have found that if I keep these seven things in front of me, I can make the time to write.

Several months ago, I started a blog. It was a great way to sit down, write about an idea, and put closure to it all within a matter of minutes. It felt great to tackle these small "posts" and quickly put closure to them. Large projects can be daunting when you know that you only have a few minutes to work on them and I found myself saying, "Why bother." The blog gives me a sense of accomplishment that carries over to my other writing. It also helps me promote myself, thus making it a worthwhile endeavor.

I'd love to hear some of the things you do to make time for yourself to write. Drop me an e-mail at or visit my site at