How to write when you have no time (or motivation)

Writing is a process.Image

I mean, I think it is. There are probably some word magicians who can type what comes and are famous for these unedited works, but my understanding is that most writers undergo the laborious and time-consuming editing process.

Probably a planning process too.

Some people even have processes for how to name characters and how to fix sagging plots.

The point is, writing isn’t like brushing your cat. You can’t do it once a year and expect your cat skill to be maintained.

This may have once been the reason you took a hiatus from writing. Basically all of November and April I dedicate to school, with no time for potty breaks let alone recreational writing. The rest of the time I’m a regular student. No job, no minor, no kid – nothing but school. And even then I have to make time for writing.

The rest of the world, apparently, likes to move faster. People are so busy nowadays that Amazon’s two-day shipping is pretty much the standard and that’s only because overnight is like thrice the cost of whatever you bought. It’s hard to find time to call your family, read a book. It’s hard to write.

But here’s the bottom line, says Stephen King: If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” If you don’t have time to do one or the other, we can fix that. But if you do not already read or write regularly, there just isn’t much hope. Become a reader, then become a writer. There’s no other way.

Luckily there are tricks to turning yourself into the writer you want to be.

First and most obvious: If you’re a schedule person, write writing into your schedule. Every day. Then follow it. Elementary. No time slot, you say, to fill with writing? If you manage to watch TV, replace it with writing and your life will be as it should be.

If you’re worried about your ability to be productive during that spare hour you finally discovered in your daily schedule, that’s fixable too. Simply enroll in a class – if you’re in high school or college, there totally should be writing electives and if there aren’t, complain. Also, many community centers and places of the like offer these kind of art classes; there may even be a writing center near you. In Norfolk we have the Muse Writers’ Center. This works writing into your schedule for you, because once you have paid for a class (especially at a university) you will not want to waste the opportunity to get as much as you can out of it.

For the people sarcastically reading “Simply enroll in a class” aloud to themselves because it was so presumptuous to assume you could afford that kind of nonsense, calm down. I’m with you. In that case, find someone to talk to about your craft. Start a writing group or find a writing partner with whom you can exchange ideas and criticism. Then, plan. Set deadlines together so each feels obligated to the other.

On that note, it helps motivate writing to tell other people your deadlines. If half your friends are eagerly waiting to read your next novel which you said would be ready June first, you are infinitely more compelled to keep that deadline than if you had made that date to yourself.

This not only applies to students, but anyone who has a job that requires regular reading and writing: Don’t exhaust yourself academically. School is super important, and so is work I assume, but what else is important? You. And your passions. One of which is writing. It’s all about balance. Remember what’s important, but also remember that what’s important isn’t the only thing. Ds get degrees! (But don’t tell anyone I said that.)

And this one is a rule for every writer, ever. I don’t understand how a writer could not do this: Carry a notebook to keep track of ideas at all times. The Good Idea will hit you hard and fleeting and if you don’t capture it, it could escape you.

Final note: The words will consume you. Let them manifest in the creases of your brain and eat and grow. Then you won’t be able to escape them.

Any other advice to motivate a busy writer? Tell me what you think with a comment. If you have a writer friend who needs some motivation, share this with them.


2 thoughts on “How to write when you have no time (or motivation)

  1. A couple of your pointers are about including other people in your process- join a class, talk to someone aout writing, share your deadlines. I think this is key. Writing can be a very lonely job, and I think including people in your process, and building a community can help a lot.

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