Finding the time to write


I admire my fellow bloggers. Many of them seem to write regularly, read diligently, and still find time to post several times a week. I don’t know how they do it. Managing my time is a constant struggle for me. As well as my writing I think it’s important to keep reading Then there’s the full-time day job of course. I don’t want to short-change my wife or kids – they need and deserve my time. And I do like to eat. And if I don’t get enough sleep my brain starts to shut down pretty quickly.

(I shouldn’t complain too much of course. I’m well aware that I have many things to be grateful for.)

I’m always trying to think of more or better ways to squeeze more mileage from my days and weeks. I suppose motivation is a key factor – you do tend to find time for those things you’re really committed to. But the fact remains there are only so many minutes in a day.

And the conundrum doesn’t look like going away. Possibly just the opposite. Recently I read an article pushing the idea that self-published writers (and perhaps the ‘conventionally’ published too) needed to increase their output. That in order to raise their profile and win new readers, they would have to publish new work much more frequently, with perhaps two or three novels a year instead of just one.

And I thought – oh, terrific. It took me over two years to write two novels. If I’m to churn them out more often in future, what gives? My family? No. If quantity has to increase, I can see exactly what has to give: quality. I don’t want to go there. I want my writing to get better, not worse. And is that what we really need in the world of self-publishing – more quantity, less quality? Surely the opposite would be infinitely preferable?

I posted a comment on the article posing that very question. Sadly, there was no response.

Anyway, I’d be really interested to hear anyone else’s ideas about time management. I don’t have too many myself. A couple do spring to mind though.

The first isn’t terribly profound: less TV. I’ve never watched very much anyway, but as writing has become more important to me TV has seemed more and more a waste of precious time. I do like a few programmes though, and sometimes it’s just the ideal way to switch off and chill out.

The second is the only half-way sensible answer I can think of to the problem of maintaining (or increasing) output without sacrificing quality or sanity: short fiction. I’ve started to get into flash fiction more, particularly the 1,000 word variety (I find it hard to write a story much shorter than that). Writing these pieces keeps me in practice, and it’s nice to be able to produce and finish something that doesn’t take too long. Reducing the length enables me to concentrate on the quality, polishing until I’m happy with the result. Plus the word limit really focusses the mind and forces me to write economically and cut the flowery verbage. It’s a good discipline.

I’m also trying my hand at a novella at the moment. Instead of 50–60,000 words – the length of my novels – I’m aiming for something more in the 15–20,000 range. Again, the idea being that I can produce something more quickly without compromising on quality. There’s also an argument that in these fast-moving, information-saturated times, there should be a growing market for short fiction. Longer novels will always have their place, but more and more people may struggle to find the time to read them.

Well that’s the sum total of my current wisdom on the subject. What about you? How do you manage your time, and is your writing changing as a result?