I support a family of five as a freelance writer, blogger, and manager of a writers’ community with more than 800 paying members. Yeah — I’m a little busy! And yet, somehow over the course of about nine months, I managed to squeeze a 220-page print business book for a traditional publisher into my schedule. How did I make it happen? Here are my tips:
Give up TV.
Honestly, I did not watch a single show for more than two years, between building my blog and community site, and then writing this book. You know, there’s Netflix now? You’re not missing anything. You can always watch it later.
Get up early.
Or stay up late. Or both. For me, getting up by about 6 a.m. gave me a little extra time before 9 a.m. rolled around and I needed to deal with blog comments and emails to squeeze out some writing or book planning time. If I caught a short nap in the afternoon, I’d often be able to clock an 8-to-midnight shift as well, great quiet time to focus on writing a book chapter.
Each week on Monday, I would look at a tracking sheet of what I wanted to tackle for the book that week. Did I need interviews? To write a list of tips for a chapter? Then I’d plan out the time through the week I needed to get that done. Block it out in your planner instead of waiting for your schedule to clear, and you’ll make the time for it.
Use small time blocks.
I live on an island with a ferry commute, and know more than one author who has written a novel on the 35-minute crossing, a bit at a time. Stop waiting for the magical time when you’ll have whole days with nothing to do but the book. It may never happen. Instead, if you’ve got even 15 minutes to focus, see what you can get done. Make that a discipline every day and you’ll be amazed at what you can get done. When I got a short break, I could grab my planner and shoot straight to the next task on the book, instead of idling around wondering what it was I was supposed to do next.
Focus on one piece.
Each chapter of my book was on a different aspect of business — market research, cash flow, labor, facilities, and so on. So to avoid having my head explode, once I had the outline, I would only think about one chapter in any given week. Blocking out the rest of the workload helped it from becoming too scary or overwhelming. I’d block out that chapter’s sections, see if I needed new interviews, and stay on that chapter until a first draft was done. Only then would I move on and consider the next chapter topic.
Write what you want.
I did not write this book in the order listed on the outline. I tackled topics as I felt in the mood for them, and I believe this made the writing flow much faster and easier.
Take care of yourself.
I try to get at least some exercise every single day. Do things that relieve stress for you — listening to music or reading helps me. There is no way you are going to be able to be super-productive if you’re eating junk and sitting like a lump.
Squeezing a book into a busy life is NOT impossible. Here’s the proof — the cake from my launch-day party. If you want this kind of fun in your life, you can do it with commitment, discipline and a commitment to self-care.
How do YOU squeeze in more writing time? Leave a comment and let us know.
About the Author: Carol Tice writes the Make a Living Writing blog.Her new book is The Pocket Small Business Owner’s Guide to Starting Your Business on a Shoestring.