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How To write a book when you're busy

In a recent social media poll I carried out, 66% said the top challenge when writing a book was finding the time.

There’s no doubt it’s tough, especially if you’re working and have family responsibilities. I used to have the feeling that writing a book, is… well… slightly indulgent. There’s always something more urgent to attend to and the truth is, there usually is something else that needs doing.

Having just typed those magical words THE END on my fourth manuscript, I know that a lot of things have slipped in other areas of my life in the last few weeks. I can’t remember the last time I went to the gym. I’ve ordered take out more times than I would like and I haven’t responded to people as quickly as usual.

However, there are a few things you can do to make the most of the limited time we have available. Over the last few years, I’ve done most of the things listed below so I thought I’d share some of these tried-and-tested techniques on how to write a book when you are busy.

1. Book time off work

Drastic, I know, but bear with me. Yes, it means potentially sacrificing your annual trip to Phuket but if there’s a time to do that, it might as well be now while travel is complex. Imagine a couple of weeks without the distraction of your job to simply focus on your book. You’d make great strides.

2. Use your commute

I know several writers who have used their commute to write a book so if you’re currently getting your YouTube fix during this time, consider getting down a hundred words on paper instead.

3. Use dead time

Waiting for your child to finish gymnastics class? In line at the supermarket? Bored in the doctor’s waiting room? Instead of playing Solitaire, write a paragraph. It’s amazing how those blocks of time add up. I came across a story of author Claire Cook who wrote Must Love Dogs. As a parent, the only regular time she had was five minutes while waiting to pick up her children from school. Incredibly, she managed to write a complete novel during this time!

4. Get support

During the most intense writing times, I’ve got my parents over to help with childcare. Explaining that you’re writing a book and need a little quiet time, most people are delighted to help in whatever way they can. (Just make sure you promise to put them in the acknowledgements!)

5. Eliminate time wasters

Delete the social media apps from your phone. Resist the urge to check email first thing. Remove the snooze option from your alarm. The first step to using your time more effectively is to become aware of where it’s going.

6. Use a voice recorder

A voice recorder can be a quicker way to start your book and you can do it on-the-go. Either use a voice to text converter or a transcriber to get the words down on paper.

7. Focus on the main points

If you’re short on time, writing the main points, ideas or scenes of a book can help. Rather than focusing on the detail of a chapter, you can come back to it later, when you’re less busy, and flesh it out.


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Desk with lamp and clock and plant

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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