You Say You Write In Your “Spare” Time?

You Say You Write in Your "Spare" Time?

First, let me say that I am honored to write this guest blog. On the heels of the Writer’s Digest Conference West this past weekend (which I had a blast at and highly recommend), this seems like perfect timing for a blog about finding the time to write.

I know this topic has been covered before, but this has been a real struggle for me. I’ve only recently found my groove, and I thought I’d share how it works for me. Maybe it will help other parents and full-timers out there who are struggling with finding time to write. But let me say, it hasn’t been easy. You’ve got to constantly keep pushing yourself, but it’s all worth it in the end because it’s why we do what we do, right? Because we love writing.

So, let’s start with a typical day for me:

  • Up at 5 a.m. and out of the house by 6 a.m.
  • Work from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Pick up kids and then the baby (who is two years old, but I still call her the baby) from daycare
  • Home:  make dinner, clean up, household chores, bathe the baby and take care of her as she clings to me for the rest of the night
  • Put the kids to bed at 9 p.m. and maybe the baby will finally fall asleep by 9:30 p.m.
  • 9:31 p.m. – Pure exhaustion and can barely keep my eyes open or think straight, but still must find a way to stay awake and write
  • Weekends – Errands and kids, kids, kids. Still struggling to stay awake after 9 p.m.

Sound familiar? Yes, I know how you feel. So, here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Find a Routine

If you go into work a little later in the morning, try getting up an hour earlier. If you’re more of a night person, stay up an hour later. Put aside one hour a day to write, wherever you can find it. After the first week, it’ll become routine. And yes, that first week is hard. But, it doesn’t always have to be seven days a week. You can give yourself a day off, say Saturday night, and make it movie night with the family. We need some time off to just veg out too! However, I find that any more than one day off gets you out of the groove and makes it hard to get back into it. It takes time to get back into your story, too. Your characters are like your second family, and they need attention daily.

Find a Spot

 You’ve got to find a quiet place to write, away from kids and spouses. This one is a real challenge, especially if your space is limited, as is mine. Believe it or not, sometimes I actually take my laptop and close myself in the closet, just to get some peace and quiet. Do whatever you have to do. Head to the garage, attic, basement, even the bathroom. Whatever it takes to get that one hour of quiet writing time.

Set a Goal

Whether it be 500 words a day or 5,000 words a week. You don’t always have to stick to it, but it’s good to have a goal. And don’t wait for inspiration to strike. If you’re really not feeling it that day, just open up your work in progress and re-read what you last wrote. Let the characters wander around in your head and see what they do. Sometimes, just having your laptop open in front of you or re-reading what you’ve already written will inspire you. And then do whatever you can for that hour. Sometimes you’ll find yourself on a roll and suddenly two hours have gone by. That’s always a really great feeling when you look back at what you’ve written and it’s twice as much as you expected. Does it make getting up for work extra hard the next morning? Yes, but it’s worth it.

Don’t Stress Over Social Media

Yes, it’s important. But it’s not everything. Don’t let it rule your life. If I blogged and Facebooked and Twittered as much as they say you should, I would never get any writing done at all. It has its time and place. You most certainly should make yourself available through all these channels and respond to specific questions and comments promptly, but don’t feel pressured to be on them 24/7. Blogging just for the sake of blogging tends to result in insignificant chatter. Give your fans and readers something of substance. If that only happens once every few days or even once a week, then so be it. As long as you are accessible and available, your fans will be there. With as little time as we have, the writing must come first.

So, there it is. Just a few things I’ve learned. I hope it helps. I’ve got a goal set for myself. I want book two done by the end of this month, and I aim to get there. Whether it be in the closet or the bathroom, I’ll get there.

– K.C. Sherwood, Mark of Quality award-winning author of Midnight at Moonglow’s