Finding time to write is the biggest difficulty and complaint I hear from authors. It is even a bigger problem than procrastination. In fact, I think procrastination is simply the result of not finding time to write.
The real problem is not lack of time to sit down and write. The problem is that when we do sit down before the computer, we procrastinate because we don’t know what to write, and we don’t know what to write because we haven’t spent any time thinking about writing before we sat down. After all, it’s not easy to pump out a few thousand words just because it’s the hour when you’re supposed to write, and it’s not easy to spend that time thinking about what to write when a blank screen or page is staring at you screaming, “Fill me!”
When is the real best time to write? When you’re not writing. Or let me put it another way: Whenever you can find time to think about your book.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But if I can’t find time to write, how will I find time to think about my book?” But we all have plenty of time to think about our books. In truth, time is all around us, and the real problem is that we simply haven’t learned to discipline our minds. Here’s a case in point. The author Agatha Christie managed to write something like eighty novels. Granted, she came from a well-to-do family and lived at a time when women weren’t supposed to work, other than doing housework, so you might think she had time, and I’m sure she learned to set aside time regularly to do her writing, but when did she say was the best time to write? She is often quoted as saying, “The best time to plan a book is while you are doing the dishes.”
Christie might not have had a pen in hand while she was washing and rinsing and wiping plates and glasses, but she had a mind that was able to function while her hands were busy. And truthfully, most great books are written as the result of an idea, as the result of taking the time to think about your book. Considering that Christie is the world’s all-time bestselling author with 2 billion books sold, who are you to argue with her?
I firmly believe that if you discipline your mind to think about your writing whenever a few minutes of time present themselves, rather than wasting that time by letting your mind wander, you will have ideas, be able to create characters, and plot out plots for your novels, or come up with interesting topics, arguments, and supporting evidence for your non-fiction. And once you know what you want to write about and get excited about it, you’ll be able to find an hour or two a day, or even just fifteen minutes a day, to focus on getting those words onto paper.
So when is the best time to write? Whenever your mind has a free moment. Here are fifty examples of when you can discipline your mind to focus on your writing.
- While doing the dishes.
- While waiting in the waiting room of the dentist’s office.
- While lying in the chair at the dentist-provided your hygienist isn’t too chatty.
- While waiting in the line at the bank.
- While waiting in the line at the car wash.
- While in the car wash.
- While riding the train.
- While riding the bus.
- While driving the car.
- When you first lie down to take a nap.
- When you go to bed and are waiting to fall asleep.
- When you wake up at 3 a.m. and can’t fall back asleep.
- When you wake up at 5 a.m. and can’t fall back asleep.
- When you wake up at 7 a.m. and don’t feel like getting up yet.
- When you’re dusting the house.
- When you’re vacuuming the house.
- When you’re washing the windows.
- When you’re cooking dinner.
Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, http://www.readerviews.com, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.