Peggy Bechko: 8 Ways to Carve out Writing Time

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by Peggy Bechko

If you’re a writer (notice I’m not saying ‘aspiring’ writer – a writer writes, if you write you’re a writer) it’s more than possible you’re at a time in your writing career where you have all kinds of obligations and responsibilities like putting food on the table, paying rent, maintaining a car or maybe going to school or a whole lot of other things.

It may be a novel you’re writing or a screenplay or articles for magazines or non-fiction instructional books to help others. Whatever it is it could be you’re juggling like mad and trying to figure out how to write a novel or script or whatever while you’re holding down a full time job or going to school full time.

Every writer no doubt has his or her own method of coping. I’m a full time writer now, but I’ll pass along a few things I did along the way. Some you probably won’t like to hear (there can be sacrifice involved in being a writer), others will seem more workable. Still others might just jump-start an idea that will work for you while you’re madly juggling.

First and foremost, think this through. Do you really want to be a professional writer or is it just a whim or a hobby? I’m not kidding. This has a strong bearing on how much time you carve out and how much time you need to carve out. Those possibilities equal very different goals and needs.

Okay, let’s say you’re aiming at carving out a writing career. Then here are 8 suggestions for finding the time to do just that. Remember you don’t necessarily have to have a LOT of time just regular time.

  • You can get up a hour earlier – of course this may well mean hitting the hay an hour earlier as well so you actually get some sleep. But the very quiet wee hours of the morning can be a great time for writing.
  • Writing on a bus or a train while commuting to work can be a great time adder for your work. Just make sure you don’t sit next to a ‘chatty Cathy’ who won’t let you work.
  • There was a time when I arranged with my employer to come in to work an hour earlier so I could take a two hour lunch – during which time I ate while I worked on my latest novel.
  • Weekends can be precious, but if you’re serious and you can get spouse and family to understand you can carve out a few hours each weekend to get serious and put words to computer screen and write.
  • Holidays are a great time to write and I spent many of them doing just that. It works very well when you’re single. I did it a lot when I was in school. You’ll have to be the judge for when you’ve got a family. Anyway, there are many of them throughout the year for the worker who has some benefits. Among them are the usual, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, but there’s also Veteran’s day, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Columbus Day, President’s Day, Martin Luther King Day as well as some local holidays.
  • Write in the evenings. It can be every week night that you write or it might just be some. Perhaps you have to work out a deal with your spouse for a number of nights when you come home from work, eat dinner early and have the evening to write uninterrupted. It means less TV and you might have to sacrifice “Thursday night Football” but that’s the way of it. Which is more important?
  • Those 15 minute breaks at work can be a great time to jot thoughts and ideas and just let them evolve further if you think of writing instead of hanging out in the coffee room or at the water cooler every day.
  • See if you can do compacted work days (i.e. 10 hour days at work) with one day off from regular work where you can use the time writing all day.

Be creative, give it some thought. There are lots of ways to carve out writing time here and there without giving in to panic and despair. If you really work at it you’ll make it, just don’t let the time you carve out for writing get frittered away on social media and you’ll do great.


Peggy Bechko is a Contributing Editor to TVWriter™. You can learn more about her HERE.