How to make time to write a book

Time to write a book

Time to Write a Book

It’s time to write a book. For many people, writing a book is a lifelong dream. A dream that goes something like this. 

Someday, when you have an abundance of time and energy, an incredible bestselling idea will drop into your mind. As you sit down to type, it will feel like you’re channelling the information, like the book is flowing through you. You’ll score a six-figure book deal and embark on a speaking tour, and just like that, your career as a bestselling author is born.  

I don’t need to tell you it doesn’t usually work out like that, right? 

When you were a student preparing for exams, did you find yourself seized with a need to tidy your desk before you could begin? You’d organise your papers, get your post-it notes ready, sharpen your pencils, fill your exam ziplock bag with multiple pens (in case one ran out of ink), fetch a glass of water and only sit down to revise when you absolutely had no other way to procrastinate. 

In other words, no matter how pressing your deadline, you needed the pressure of time before you’d actually stick your butt in that chair and do the revision you needed to do.

It’s the same with writing your book.

Waiting until you have a vast expanse of time to write is a fool’s logic. You’ll block out that weekend, that week or that month to write and suddenly find yourself drawn to weed that garden bed, attend to your taxes, drive a loved one to an appointment, dust the top shelf, or go onto Facebook, just for a second. You’ll find all manner of justifiable reasons to push your writing dream to the side – and then beat yourself up afterwards for not making the most of that time. 

A grand, empty space of time is scary. You’ve got to fill it somehow, and when you sit down, any inspiration you may have had may well desert you. This whole book project starts to feel, well, a bit hopeless. Who are you to ever think you could write a book?

 

When it comes to writing your book, lack of time is not the problem.

 

Have you ever heard the saying, if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it? 

 

There’s a reason for it – busy people get stuff done. They plan, prioritise, organise and squeeze productive moments into their day. They don’t muck around sharpening pencils – they make a commitment and they keep it. 

More importantly, they see themselves as people who get stuff done. 

Writing a book takes commitment. You need to put your butt in the chair, your fingers on the keys and your heart on the page.  You’re going to need to choose your book, over and over and over again. When the client work gets too busy, when the kids get sick, when it’s Christmas time, holiday time, netball season, harvest time, tax time. 

Writing a book takes belief – in the worth of the project, in the value of what you have to say, in yourself as a writer who will show up to the page and get this book done.  

 

If you’re committed to writing a book and realising your dream of becoming a writer, here’s how to make it happen for you to have time to write a book: 

 

1. Commit to your book

Decide today that your book is one of your top 3 priorities for the next 12 months. Write it out on a post-it note and stick it up where you will see it (the fridge, your bathroom mirror, your computer screen):

I am committed to writing my first draft of my book by [12 months time]

My book is important to me and I make it my priority.

 

2. Block out the time

Decide when you will write and how long you will write for, then block it out in your diary. 

  • Maybe you can only snatch half an hour before the kids get up, or after they go to bed. 
  • Maybe you have 2-hour blocks, twice a week.
  • Maybe you can only write on Saturday mornings. 

Whatever time you have, block it out and mark it on your schedule. If you miss a day here and there, don’t sweat it. Just show up for the next session and commit to your book again.

 

3. Decide to be the kind of person who shows up to the page

In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear talks about the importance of building a consistent habit, before you worry about how much you’re getting done. It’s about being the kind of person who….[ fill in the blank.]  Once you are that person, you’ll find it so much easier to build your intensity and stick to your habit for the long term

So if you want to be the kind of person who goes to the gym every day, then commit to going in everyday for just two minutes. That’s all you have to do. Once you’ve built the habit of showing up, THEN extend your time at the gym.

If you want to do 100 push ups, make sure you never go to bed without doing at least 1, even on your busiest days. Build the habit of showing up, and gradually increase your reps. 

And if you want to write, then commit to showing up to your writing sessions, even for just a short time. Don’t go to bed without writing at least one sentence. Be that person who shows up to the page when you say you will.

 

4. Set a minimum word target

Set a minimum number of words you will write in each session. Keep it small at first, even 200 words will do. Just remember this is a minimum goal, so if you’re on a roll just keep going! 

Your writing doesn’t have to be perfect or polished – in fact, at this stage in the process it shouldn’t be. Just get the words down on the page so you have something to play with when you get to the editing stage. 

(And if all else fails and some days you can’t even make it to 200 words, then go back to step 3 and remember James Clear’s advice to build the habit first. Write just one sentence before you go to bed.)

 

5. Enlist support

Let your family or close friends know about your commitment and ask for their help in getting it done. Let the kids know that during focused writing time, you are not to be disturbed. Stick a post-it reminder on the door. Ask your partner for support, trade childminding with a friend who has a passion project of her own, or switch on Netflix for half an hour (a little extra device time is not going to be the end of the world).

 

6. Get an accountability partner

Whether you hire a coach (that’s me) or ask a friend, find someone who will hold you accountable for showing up to the page every day. Text your partner at the end of every session and confirm you’ve made your word count – and ask them to do the same. You can read more about choosing an accountability partner and keeping up momentum on your book, here.


7. Take care of yourself

Choose one other thing you can do to support your writing dreams. Whether it’s getting a walk in to clear your head before you start writing, planning out your week’s writing on a Sunday afternoon, or getting to bed on time. 

A game changer for me has been installing downtime on my phone. After 9.30, all my apps go into sleep mode until 7am. When my phone close down, It reminds me to quit scrolling and go to bed on time. This means I get quality sleep and can’t check social when my 6:15 AM writing alarm goes off.

8. Choose yourself

You regularly put others’ needs ahead of your own goals, dreams and wellbeing. (Think: your kids’ sport, that voluntary committee, your loved ones’ needs, your clients’ needs.) 

How about deciding to prioritise your own dreams for a change? 

 

So when are you going to choose your dream?

Over and over again, you place other priorities before your book.  Life is always going to be busy – it’s up to you to make it happen. 

If you’re ready to commit and make time to write your book, I would love to help. Click here to book a free consult and let’s chat.

 

 

 

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