A question I am frequently asked about writing is ‘how do you find the time when you have a full-time job?’
It’s a tricky one to answer. Time is finite and we never seem to have enough. So here’s how I do it; I’m not saying this is the only way or the best, it’s just what I do (and don’t do) and it works for me.
I try to write every day. I aim for a thousand words and my preferred time to write is between 7pm and 8pm. This allows me a couple of hours break from sitting at a computer all day and, of course, to eat, do the washing, iron (yuk), shop, clean and all the other things that life requires of us. I try, though don’t always succeed, to stop writing around 8pm, but I never go past 9pm unless it’s the weekend. Otherwise I go to bed with my characters talking nonstop inside my head and keeping me awake – sometimes they just won’t shut up.
In the past eighteen months or so, I’ve written two full length novels and am working on my third. I’ve always written, but in the past I never got further than three chapters and a synopsis. I wrote a lot of short stories, I still do, but nothing beats the satisfaction of finishing a book. What’s different now is I don’t treat writing as a nice treat, something to savour. I used to do all the other ‘jobs’ first then feel too exhausted or run out of time, now I treat writing as a job, albeit a second one. I love writing, love creating worlds and situations and watching how my characters behave, but I don’t allow myself to wallow in each situation I create for too long. I move on, just like in real life.
I’m lucky because I can type quickly, 60 words per minute, which helps when the brain is functioning at that speed too. So a thousand words in an hour is more than possible, sometimes I even manage more, but sometimes I have to squeeze them out, then bin them later. But it’s forming the habit that counts, that’s what I’ve discovered.
Inevitably there are things I no longer do, or do less of than I used to. Watching TV is one of them, although I still watch too much and I do enjoy it. Gardening – and my garden shows the obvious signs. Ironing – I’ve grown to embrace the creases. Decorating – I love decorating, but it’s so time consuming and physically draining. Sewing, I used to make something most weeks, now it’s less frequent; same goes for all the other handicrafts I enjoy. But I found I had to make a choice and choosing writing has meant finished books. I still visit family, I still go out and socialise, these are things I don’t want to cut down on. It’s easier for me now that I don’t have small children, though I actually wrote a lot when they were small, especially after they’d gone to bed, and I only had a part-time job.
I still read other authors’ books. Every night. Before I go to sleep. Because I love reading as much as I love writing and I don’t have to do the hard work, because someone else has already done it.
So there it is; that’s how I find the time to write with a full-time job. What do you do?