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I get it. You’re busy. Who has time to write a book, really?
But, remember why you’re so excited about this book. Wouldn’t it be great to write the darn thing already?
How to Make Time to Write a Book
You can make time to write a book no matter how busy you are. And, in the end, you’ll be so grateful that you did make the time to write. Here are 12 easy ways to get started:
- No More Yes-Man (or Woman): When someone asks you to do something for them, first ask yourself, “How will saying ‘yes’ to this impact my book?” This one reality-check should help you preserve any time you free up. Cathy Turney, author of the Stevie-Award winning Laugh Your Way to Real Estate Sales Success, “converted this tip to a yellow-sticky and posted it over my kitchen and bathroom sinks.” Make that two yellow stickies. “It’s the first thing I see when my eyes focus in the morning!”
- Clone Yourself: Are you one of those people who gets asked to serve on volunteer committees and then becomes the person everyone counts on? Volunteerism is a wonderful thing but not while you’re writing your book. When an aspiring author told me she was indispensible on a fundraising committee for an annual event, I encouraged her to find her replacement. She did and wrote her book!
- Go to Bed: This idea came up in my 8 week book writing course and I can’t take credit for it. One of the participants said she was going to bed an hour early and waking up an hour early to write. Guess what? She not only wrote her book in 8 weeks but inspired several classmates to join the early to bed club. Carrie Barron, MD, author of The Creativity Cure, shares, “Ever since I saw the artist Louise Bourgeois’s show Drawings From Sleep, I became aware that for me, the best time to write is when I roll out of bed. The unconscious brims with images and affects and I can catch the tail end of that deep state. Because I’m groggy, I’m less inclined to let my critical voice curb the process, so it’s easier to get that first draft down. It’s so quiet and peaceful in the morning, too.”
- Practice “no”: All kinds of opportunities will come up to “not write.” Practice saying ‘no’ ahead of time—try it in front of a mirror or role-play with a friend if you’re one of those people who has trouble saying ‘no.’
- Freeze Your Food: Doing less cooking can free up time. Make big meals and freeze them or order healthy take-out a couple times a week. Cathy Turney says she buys individual frozen entrees for herself and her husband, and prepares a salad or veggie to accompany the entrees, plus wine and dessert. “It freed up HOURS of menu planning, shopping, food prep and clean up because I just go to the frozen section of the store and choose from their amazing variety and then hit the vegetable aisle. An added bonus: I dropped a pants size without even trying!”
- Write Early: You and I both know that the things you do first in your day get done and those you leave for later tend not to. If you put emails, texts and social media before writing, they can easily eat up every hour of the day. Spend an hour or two on your book in the morning before going social. After writing, you can take up the tasks that tend to expand to fill the time. Chris Spurvey, author of Time to Sell, says, “I forced myself to become a morning person and integrated writing into my morning routine. I’ve been practicing it now for over a year.” His morning routine has resulted in a bestselling book, which sold 10,000 copies the first month, and 75+ articles in a bit over a year.
- Get Rid of Something: What’s one activity you can give up or do less of? Commit to putting it off until your book is written.
- Hermit-ize: Warn your friends and family that you’ll be less social while working on your book. Go back to #1 when those social invitations come in. Can you be social at all? Sure. See tip #9. Cathy Turney adds, “And return every phone call you can late in the afternoon – after you run out of creativity and your callers run out of steam.”
- Treat Yourself: Only allow yourself to go out in the evening if you’ve earned it by writing that day. Or find other ways to reward yourself later in the day after you’ve put in your writing time.
- Make a Sign: Avoid interruptions by putting a “do not disturb” sign on your office during writing time. You can have fun with this and write something playful, “Genius at work,” “Bestseller in the making”—something that will put a smile on your face, as well as the face of anyone who reads it. On “removing” herself from family, Carrie Barron shares, “I have had those guilty pangs but my family understands when I remove myself. I think it has had a couple of side benefits. My kids see me concentrating and they are developing that habit, too. Also, because I’m less available they have learned some self reliance.”
- Turn ’em Off: Avoid email, texts, calls, etc. by turning office devices or notifications. Or go somewhere without your phone/device, such as your local library.
- Squeeze it In: Have a notebook or device handy for times when you’re waiting—at a doctor’s appointment, in line at the DMV or picking a child up from school. If you’re organized and you outline, even 15 minutes can be productive.
Even if you free up time for your book, if you don’t actually stick to the time, it’s meaningless. So, schedule specific times in your calendar and stick to them. Perhaps you need a writing buddy, coach or class to help you be accountable. Get whatever support you need to stick to the writing.
Looking for more guidance for starting and completing your book? Join Lisa Tener and Samantha Bennett for a free call to get the guidance you need to “Jump Start Your Book.”
Author of this Post: Lisa Tener is the recipient of the Silver Stevie Award for Mentor/Coach of the Year 2014. You can also read Lisa’s book writing blog or find her articles on writing and publishing on the Huffington Post. Be sure to check out her blog.
Author of the Blog/Website: Frances Caballo is an author, podcaster and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s written several books including Social Media Just for Writers and Avoid Social Media Time Suck. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writer conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Ask Frances to prepare a social media audit for you.