How to find time to write

A lot of people tend to be surprised at how much I do and how I find time to write. Given we’re coming up to NaNoWriMo again, I’d talk about how you can actually find the time to to write 1700 words a day.

To set the scene, these are some of the things I regularly make time for:

Working full time as a lecturer. I teach 3 different courses, am the national coordinator for 2 courses and have been doing work in curriculum development.

Editing my novel. I wrote a novel and have been busy editing it (I finished editing the first draft just today!).

NYWF 2018 Banner

Research. I’ve been reading and researching my novel. That includes everything from reading other novels, to reading about plot structure and editing techniques. I’ve also been doing research into writing about mental illness and trauma (which I talked about at NYWF) and uses of artificial intelligence in the classroom (which I presented a research paper on for TEMC in September).

Creating digital work. I created a work called “this is what depression feels like” for NYWF and will be showcasing it at the Digital Writers’ Festival in November. It’s coded in HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

This blog.  Writing posts takes time. Planning and working with guest authors also takes time.

Volunteering. I’m volunteering for Perth Web Girls to help run coding workshops for women. The next one is Saturday the 3rd of November. I also volunteer on the WA Poets Inc committee.

So how do I find time to write?

Well, I just do.

When I was younger, I was meticulous about when and where I’d write. I needed a clean desk with new stationary, a nice notebook. I needed to go the beach and look out over the ocean, but it also couldn’t be too windy. It couldn’t be too hot. I couldn’t be tired, and it couldn’t be too loud.

I started many novels, but never finished any of them, and I didn’t write very much at all. I was a student, and I wasn’t working, so I had the time to be fussy. Now I don’t.

That’s really all there is to it. I write whenever I get the chance to. If I have 15 minutes left on my lunch break, I’ll spend it writing. If I wake up early, I’ll spend an extra 20 minutes writing before getting ready. I might only have 5 minutes before my stop on the train. I’ll still write something, even if it’s just a few sentences.

Time is precious and I have so little of it now. If I wait for the right time to write, I’ll never finish the novel. I just have to get something down on the page, so that a future version of me has something to cross out with red pen and curse over.

There’s really no secret to finding time to write. It’s all about busting the myth that a writing session has to be hours of you sitting alone with headphones in. 15 minute bursts can be just as productive.



Participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Track your progress and keep yourself motivated with David Seah’s word tracker.

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