You’ve probably heard the advice enough times to be sickened by it. The pundits say that if you can eke out two hours of writing time per day, you’ll have no problem publishing a few books every year. When most normal people try to find that extra time in their schedules, they can’t help but laugh. “Two hours per day,” they say, “I’m lucky if I can find 10 minutes.” That being said, if you want to make writing books a part of your life, then you’ll need to carve out regular time every day to put pen to paper.
It’s easy to get into a productivity rut. When life gets jam-packed with work and family obligations, 10-minute tasks can easily turn into half-hour endeavors. This problem is universal, but most people never squeeze out the necessary time to fit in creative work. You have to strive for better to be a writer. Here are five ways to carve out two hours of writing per day:
1. Cut Everything That’s Unnecessary
The most successful people in the world are absolutely ruthless with their time. If they have to choose between watching the big championship game and finishing a work project, then they’ll likely just catch the highlights the next day. These second-hand sticklers comb through all the activities on their schedule and cut out anything that isn’t necessary.
What activities could you live without and what could you change to take less time? Chop out the 15 minutes you spend reading the paper, and nix the half-hour you take for your daily Facebook newsfeed scroll. Make your gym workout twice as intense but half as long. Have your kids join an after-school program, and make a trade with your spouse to get a few extra scribbling hours per week. Every life is different, but time is time. Even the tiniest of changes can add up massively over the course of a year or two.
2. Sacrifice Some Social Time
Most writing is done alone. If you can’t get enough alone time, then you’ll have a lot of trouble finishing that next manuscript. One of the biggest drains on solo writing time is an active social life. When you stay out late and sacrifice your sleep, keeping yourself on schedule the following day will be a major challenge.
This may seem like a recommendation that you become a hermit, which is at least partly true. Social interaction is a wonderful thing. It’s just not conducive to writing. Sometimes you need to make a choice: writing or entertainment. If you decide on writing, then you may not be as popular, but at least you’ll have something interesting to talk about on the occasions where you do leave the house.
3. Find and Fill The Gaps
Just because you can’t find two continuous hours of writing doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze the full 120 minutes out of your day. Many authors use their morning commutes and lunch breaks to get words on the page. Others bring their computers and pads of paper to doctor’s offices, carpool pick-up lanes, and other non-traditional spaces to make the writing happen. When you can’t fit in the time otherwise, you need to find and fill the gaps in your schedule.
Look for instances when you have at least 10 minutes when you’re waiting for something to happen. This could range from waiting for your son to get out of school to the end of the laundry machine wash cycle. Figure out ways to insert writing into all of those fallow periods. Train yourself to be able to write in short powerful bursts. If you can string together enough of these tiny writing sessions, then you’ll be able to collect a cumulative 10-15 hours per week.
4. Work When Nobody Is Awake
Writing in the middle of a crowded parking lot is great for squeezing in a few hundred words, but it’s not without its distractions. This is why one of the best practices for procuring writing time is to find times where you can work without interruption. The best way to do this is to write when nobody is awake.
This may seem like the nuclear option, but it’s been the secret to success for many an author. It’s a commitment to wake up an hour or two earlier or to burn the midnight oil, but this is time you need to get your work finished. It can’t be compromised, so you may as well compromise the hours you spend awake.
5. Life-Proof Your Time
Your time is valuable, but you need to make sure the other people in your life understand that. Dedicated authors find ways to carve out writing time in which their spouse and children agree not to interrupt them. When you and your family are on the same page about your career, this is less difficult than you’d think.
The other way to life-proof your time is to relentlessly plan everything as many months out as possible. Set hard and fast deadlines for your writing projects and make it clear to everyone just how much time you’ll need to finish. Deal in absolutes when you share the amount of daily writing time you’ll require. If you can’t make the compromises you need, then try to do as much of your writing away from the house as you possibly can.
Time Is What You Make Of It
It’s incredible to hear the stories of people with multiple kids and full-time jobs that somehow finish book after book. These authors have been able to mine their schedules to set aside the time they need to get things done. In most cases, it wasn’t easy, but there’s no one-click path to becoming the author you want to be. Start making changes in your schedule today that’ll have you writing books well into the future.