6 Ways to Sneak Writing Time

Some of the world’s best books have been written in an hour a day over months.

I saw Elizabeth Gilbert speak earlier in the year and this is what stayed with me. In all her practical glory she pointed out that every writer wants acres of time, a pretty loft and an inspirational view. No one gets that. If you wait around for the perfect time, perfect space and perfect level of inspiration, you won’t write.
6 ways to sneak writing time
As a working mum, I snatch at time to write. Beg, borrow, sneak and steal it. It’s important to me so I follow it. If writing wasn’t a need, I wouldn’t treat it like one. But it is and so I try to fit it into my busy life as best I can. There is no loft, no pretty view (only chores undone) and sneakily small cracks which I  stuff with words.

So how do I do this?  Find these small spaces of time to write and make the most of them? 

  1. Notepads (the kind you physically write in)

    I have notepads in handbags and beside my bed. I capture ideas, imagery and random sentences. For some reason I can more easily forgive myself for jotting in a notepad around my kids than I can tapping away on my phone. It seems to allow me to remain more connected. And I end up with ideas, plans and pretty sentences ready for the taking when I sit down at the keyboard.

  2. Notepad (the app on the phone) 

    My most used app is Notes. It’s what I am using right now. It allows me take my writing wherever I am.  Sometimes words don’t flow on the computer, trapped inside and behind a desk. But notes gives me freedom to write whenever time and inspiration strike together.

  3. Plan things out first

    If you plan your writing first — which can also be done in five minute increments — you will be able to pick up easily where you left off.

  4. Learn to write in five minute increments

    Set the timer and just go. Don’t worry about a ritual or a mindset or a perfect set of circumstances. Grab that little slice of time and wrestle with it whole heartedly for the entire space of 300 seconds.

  5. Let go of the romance

    You don’t need a cup of a tea and a biccie, background music, a meditative state or any other props to invite the words. Ritual is great if you have the time — it’s beautiful and cozy. When you don’t have the time it’s a barrier to creativity and a seemingly good excuse.

  6. Find and use the small cracks of time

    I don’t have any spare hours in my day. But I do have spare minutes. A few snatched before the kids wake up. The trip into town on the bus. The ad breaks. The time I would otherwise spend on social media. A few words written and a few words read before bedtime. The sacred minutes between pulling into the driveway sans kids and actually getting out of the car. There are dotted over the day – these tiny opportunities.

It’s not an easy thing — squeezing writing into life. But it’s possible when I let go of romantic writerly notions and seize what’s available to me. When I give myself permission and encourage myself that it is a worthwhile pursuit.

Even if the only reward is balm to the soul — that’s still a large reward.

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How do you manage time to write or pursue other creative avenues?

Linking up with Kylie Purtell – Capturing Life and IBOT 

32 thoughts on “6 Ways to Sneak Writing Time

  1. Rachel says:

    It’s amazing what you can do with a bunch of spare minutes :). I find the words flow more easily when I don’t make a big deal out of writing – when I plan and organise things because “I NEED some time alone to write!” I’m often left sitting and staring at a blank screen.
    Visiting from #teamIBOT today :).

  2. JF Gibson says:

    Of course I love me a good notebook. I have loads of them filled with words, ideas, phrases, descriptions. It’s a great way to get ideas down and just free write. Where it doesn’t always make sense or have a purpose. Stealing time is hard with young kids, but you just have to where ever you can, because that perfect expanse of time isn’t coming!
    JF Gibson recently posted…How did you survive your teens?My Profile

  3. Seana says:

    Good points here and I can relate… though actually sometimes I do have lots of time these days. I spend loads of time driving kids around and I think things through there and when doing stuff at home. So when I come to write I can often just let the post of article just pour out. I’ve been working on it just whilst doing other stuff. I charge by the hour for some website writing and they get a bargain as I only charge for the actual sitting down time not all the hours of thinking that mean I can write fast!

    I also love to go to a cafe with a particular thing in mind and JUST DO IT. Did that yesterday and it felt great. A cafe and a coffee is a massive treat in my own mind, so is writing.

    • Robyna says:

      Me too. And I have the BEST posts in my head — they never quite translate to be as glittering as they were in my imagination though.

    • Robyna says:

      Yes, I have that too – but I’m getting speedier on the phone (as long as it doesn’t crazily auto-correct things that aren’t actually incorrect.)

  4. Josefa says:

    I need tog et better at using small spaces of time tow rite – I really do. I like the five minute timer one – might give that a try this week – thank you great post xx
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  5. Kirsty @ My Home Truths says:

    I love these tips. I am one who “needs” to have time and inspiration and opportunity to converge all at the same time to write. Except I don’t really, I just think I do. Thanks for the reminder that writing can be done anywhere and on anything!

  6. Vicki @ Knocked Up & Abroad says:

    Yes I have gotten better at writing in short blocks. Mostly a few minutes before the kids awake, when they might be watching a movie, or in bed. Sometimes I sit well into it and other times I struggle with creative flow. The timer thing might worth a shot!
    Vicki @ Knocked Up & Abroad recently posted…The Nearby AdventureMy Profile

  7. hugzilla says:

    This is something I have started doing more of since my little existential crisis the other day. LOL. I’ve been using those snippets of time to jot down notes, ideas, structures. If nothing else it has given me back a little bit of momentum, because it has made writing a habit again. Unfortunately my posts take ages to craft and if I’m in the zone I need to pump that shit out otherwise it gets lost. I find it had to write the content itself in small snippets, but the brainstorming of ideas I can definitely do.
    hugzilla recently posted…7 Ways I Knew That My House Was Haunted (Hint: A Ghost Tried to Kill Me)My Profile

    • Robyna says:

      I’ve had to train myself to fit into the small spaces. Some times I go over what I have allocated myself but it works, eventually.

    • Robyna says:

      It’s just so easy – well aside from annoying “auto-corrects” of words that are not actually wrong. I always have to change “sew” back because it wants “see”.

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