Written by A Guest Author November 30th, 2023

How to Carve Out Time to Write

By Aliya Bree Hall

We’re all busy. From balancing our jobs, families and social calendars, it can be hard to justify using our hard-earned free time to write when there’s hundreds of other things we could spend that energy on.

As you can imagine, the problem with that approach is that if we’re not actively making the time to sit and work on our draft or revisions — it’s not getting done.

While the “easy” answer to this conundrum is just: write, we all know it’s not always that simple. That’s why I want to approach some of the main, underlying reasons that keep us from sitting down to write and how we can make more room for our writing process to flourish.

Making Writing a Priority

Before we even dig into practical strategies, I want to give you permission to make your writing a priority. Too often we minimize how important writing is in our lives by putting it at the end of our to-do list, but by treating our writing as something that can constantly be rescheduled or something “we’ll get around to” we’re really just telling ourselves that it’s not a priority.

It’s okay to put your writing ahead of other obligations. Now, I’m not saying that you should let everything fall to the wayside in favor of your writing, but you should give yourself a chance to invest in your creativity and craft. You’ll know best what writing prioritization will look like in your life, perhaps it means waking up a little bit earlier or turning down social invitations with friends or family to make this time for you.

By first giving ourselves permission to choose our writing and actively giving that time the weight it deserves, it makes it easier for you to validate scheduling writing into your busy life.

Creating a Sustainable Writing Routine

One of the biggest secrets of carving out time to write is by being realistic with our schedules and determining how much time we can actually give to our writing. Is it realistic for you to wake up and write first thing as part of your morning routine? Can you spend 10 to 20 minutes on your lunch break or between appointments to type a scene out on your phone?

By asking how much time we can actually give a day or a week to our writing, we can then start to build a sustainable writing routine around those times. Maybe writing a little every day doesn’t work for you, but you have some gaps in your evenings a few times a week that you can squeeze some words out. It doesn’t have to be hours if that isn’t feasible for you, and those 10-minute sprints definitely add up!

For some, one way to create a routine around your writing is to tie the act to a physical gesture. For example, sitting at your desk at the same time each day after you make your first cup of tea or coffee. This physical gesture also helps puts your brain in the right headspace for writing. As it becomes muscle memory, it’s also rewiring your mind to say, “This is my writing time.” Other gestures could include lighting your favorite candle, turning on your writing playlist, or reading the last page you wrote to immerse yourself back into your story.

If you’re someone who doesn’t find building a “writing mood” to be particularly helpful, there is still a lot to be gained from creating a writing habit.

Keeping Up the Motivation to Write

Even with giving ourselves permission to prioritize our writing and building a writing routine, there are going to be days when you won’t want to show up for your work. That’s totally understandable! Taking time away from our writing can be lucrative, but often it’s used as a way to avoid our manuscripts. By finding ways to keep up your motivation, you’re more likely to stick with  your writing schedule.

Start by setting yourself up for success — writing is a challenge on its own, and sometimes you need to find a way to ease yourself into your writing time. By outlining scenes ahead of writing them or leaving notes to yourself about what you want to tackle the following day will give you a clear path to hit the ground running each day.

It’s also important to reward yourself! Positive reinforcement can be a huge boost to keep us engaged and focused. Perhaps a skittle for every 100 words? Taking a bubble bath at the end of a writing session or stroll in the neighborhood? Whatever it is, it should be something you can look forward to.

I use stickers to mark every writing session in my bullet journal as my treat for writing — but it also doubles as a collage of all my progress, so I can see how far I’ve come and how much work I’ve actually done on my draft outside of word count. The reward shouldn’t be anything too big, as you want to repeat them throughout the writing process, and you can save that for larger milestones.

By finding more ways to realistically encourage yourself to write, the more likely you are to actually follow through on your writing goals!

Bio: Aliya Bree Hall is a writer and occasional journalist based in Portland, Oregon. She writes romance and horror that predominantly features dramatic sapphics. Hall is also the author of the Author Publish books, “Now Comes The Hard Part: An Authors Publish Introduction to Marketing Your Book” and “How to Revise for Publication,” as well as the short story, “The Forest’s Call,” published in the Quill & Crow Publishing anthology, Bleak Midwinter I: The Darkest Night.


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