You'd like to blog, or write a romance, pen poetry, or write a book about collecting Tiffany lamps. But when can you do it? We all lead such busy lives today that it's hard for someone not already making a living as a writer to find time to write. Friends and family may think it's cute that you are writing, but tend to see it as a hobby at the bottom of your priority list.
Some lucky people need only shake themselves out of watching TV, playing games, surfing the net, or socializing during their free time, and write during some of that time instead. Most people, though, need to figure out how they can free up some time away from distractions and obligations. Mom or Dad trying to write at home is only too likely to be dragged away to something "more important," like helping Julie find her homework before the school bus arrives.
You are not looking for an excuse to escape your obligations, though. Actually, the minimum you need to make progress as a writer is one hour--but that's one hour straight, not three twenty-minute periods. So, how can you get at least one hour per day, at least five days per week, alone with your pen and paper or--preferably--a computer? Here are some ideas:
1. On the job, if you get an hour for lunch don't go with your colleagues to the cafeteria or a fast food place. Bring your lunch, find a quiet spot, and either write by hand or on your computer if your job includes one and there is no objection to your using it for your own projects on your own time. Do not put your own writing on your work computer's hard drive; save to a USP port drive (called a thumb, jump, or flash drive), or to a temporary file that you email to yourself and then delete from the work computer. Do not use your company email address, either--get a free Gmail account.
2. If your company allows, come to work an hour early or stay an hour late to do your writing.
3. Go to the public library before or after work. If they're open before you have to be at work, that is the best time to avoid being chased away from the computer after less than an hour. If you write by hand, though, no problem--just find a table as far as possible from the children's section and write to your heart's content.
4. If you are unemployed, you can do what J. K. Rowling did when she was writing her first Harry Potter book: sit in the back of a coffee shop during non-busy hours, drink coffee or tea, and write.
5. If your job is as a stay-at-home mom or dad, write as soon as the kids leave for school. Take your hour at once--don't start housework until you have done your writing.
6. Kids too young for school or daycare? Find parents in your same situation and trade off child care so that each of you gets one hour of "me time" daily. It doesn't matter what the other parents do with their time--you use yours to write. Nap when your kids nap, so your "me time" won't be a temptation to snooze.
7. Are you home schooling your children? You are already in a group of home-schooling parents. There are two ways for you to get your hour to write. The first is the same as #6 above. The second is to work out legitimate writing time for the kids you are teaching. It can be in English one day, Social Studies, a Science lab report, an art project, or Math workbook another. While the kids are doing that work, don't just sit there--write!
8. Are you caring for little kids who don't do writing projects? Then they are young enough to nap--and their nap time is your writing time. Sure, it won't work every day, but if you get them into a routine (necessary for your sanity anyway), most days it will.
If you really want to write, you can find the time. Good luck!
Written by Jean Lorrah, who is a New York Times best-selling author.
Find Jean's free daily writing tips at http://twitter.com/TipsOnWriting .