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How To Find Time To Write A Book

Karen Osman

Films have often romanticised the concept of writing a book (who didn’t envy Colin Firth in Love Actually writing from his tranquil cabin on the lake?) but the reality can often be disappointing. The majority of successful authors will tell you it’s about regularly sitting down at your desk and putting pen to paper whether you’re feeling creative or not. But with most of us having busy jobs, families to look after, and other commitments, trying to find the time to write a book can feel almost impossible.

It can be done though - I wrote my first novel, The Good Mother, while looking after a toddler, giving birth to my second child, and running a business (not recommended, by the way.) So, if you’re willing to commit to writing your book this year, here are my top tips to find the time to make it happen.

1) Identify Where You’re Currently Spending Your Time

One of the most frightening things I ever did was check my phone for how many hours I spent on social media. It was horrendous – I won’t share the exact number but let’s just say I could have written an extra book that year.

Where are you spending your energy that might not best serve you? If you have no clue, it’s worth downloading an App (I used to use ATracker) and logging the data. How much time are you really spending watching TV? How much time is spent scrolling? On socialising? You might be surprised by the results and while I would never advise completely giving up something you enjoy, these could be areas for review. For example, if you go out three nights a week, consider stripping back to two and write on the third night. A small sacrifice could lead to a big payoff.

2) Become an Early Bird

If you really can’t find the time in your current schedule, consider waking up earlier and writing first thing in the morning. There are fewer distractions and the achievement of working on something important before the rest of the world is even awake will set you up for the day. If the thought of getting up at five in the morning fills you with dread, check out The 5AM Club by Robin Sharma – inspirational and life-changing!

Now, if you have children - especially if they’re early risers like mine - this could be a challenge. But if your kids sleep until a reasonable hour (please feel free to share how you got them to do that!) then getting up before them to enjoy a coffee and some creative time will be something you start to look forward to.

3) Use ‘Dead’ Time

I have a friend who had a daily 90-minute train journey into London each way. She would usually listen to music but one day she took out her laptop and told herself she would write for fifteen minutes. After a few weeks, she was writing her novel twice a day for the full-length of her commute. After several months, she had finished the first draft of her manuscript.

Where do you have regular dead time in your day? It could be while waiting for meetings or appointments, waiting for your child to finish their football session, or on a bus or plane. Make a list and ask yourself how can you maximise this time.

4) Bring Back The Lunch Hour

If you’re in the corporate world, the days of starting at nine am, clocking off at five, and taking a full hour for lunch, are long gone. Connected 24/7, we’re working harder than ever before. As for lunch, I suspect most people dash out for a quick sandwich which they then eat at their desk while checking emails. But in most countries, a lunch break is a legal requirement so consider using this time to get a little writing done. It doesn’t even have to be the full hour – even twenty minutes, five times a week will produce an impressive word count over time.

5) Join A Writing Group

If you really can’t bear the thought of giving up a night out (see point 1), why not make writing a part of your social life and join a writing group? The danger here is that you end up doing more socialising and less writing so it’s important to find a group that has a good balance. If there aren’t any groups in your area, why not set up one of your own? Ask around your network and you’ll probably find you’re not the only one who wants to write a book. Once you have a few people on board, set an agenda and make sure there’s time allocated for writing as well as socialising.

6) Book A Writing Holiday

If life is just too hectic, you might want to consider booking a writing holiday. At the time of writing this article (during the pandemic), travel is a bit uncertain, but it’s still worth researching. Writing a book requires headspace and there are times in life where it’s simply not feasible to add another project. By booking it as a holiday, you can let go of other daily responsibilities and have a little bit of a breather. The teaching element common in most writing holidays will also add more support and let’s be honest, who doesn’t fancy putting pen to paper in the Italian countryside or on Greek Island? You might just get your Colin Firth moment after all.


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I'm Karen, a best-selling novelist who left her corporate life to pursue my dream of becoming a writer. Since then, I've written everything from travel articles to web copy before winning a novel writing competition which led to a 3-book deal. 


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