Why is it so darn difficult to find time to write?
To write your nonfiction book, or your novel, or a blog post, even just a Linked In update!
What if I told you finding the time to write isn’t about finding more time or even time management?
I’m not saying you aren’t busy. You’ve got a full-tilt life going, naturally.
And if you are dealing with extraordinary life circumstances like a new baby, a dying parent, a stressful job, healing from grief, too much climate anxiety, I’m going to gently recommend that you don’t try to find the time to write right now.
Give yourself a break and wait until life gets a little easier.
This will actually make it easier to find the time to write in the future because you will have given yourself fully to life and given your brain a break from trying to find the time to write and failing.
But if you could reasonably find 15 to 30 minutes here and there to write, then let’s discuss why it may be hard to find time to write a nonfiction book or anything else.
Here’s why I think it’s hard to find the time to write (notice these have nothing to do with time):
- Because your brain believes writing is dangerous.
- Because you haven’t been taught how to write (and I don’t mean grammar or craft, I mean process).
- Because you live in a world that doesn’t value writing until it’s successful.
- Because you may need help writing a nonfiction book or a novel.
- Because consistency is often a pointless goal when finding time to write.
Let me unpack each of these and tell you what you can try today to find time to write a nonfiction book or a blog post or a journal entry or heck, a birthday card.
Finding Time to Write The Non-Time Management Way
How To Find Time To Write: Make Writing Feel Emotionally Safe
Most of us have had uncomfortable, even humiliating, experiences around writing. Most of us have a deep fear of not being good enough, smart enough, clever enough, and of being criticized.
I once got a bad review for one of my books in People magazine. A couple of days after the magazine came out, I was grocery shopping and turned the corner to find two friends reading the review and laughing. Did I mention I was 8 months pregnant?
This sort of focus on being good enough has trained your brain to perceive writing as dangerous to your self-identity. This means your brain releases stress hormones that inhibit your imagination and make it much harder to concentrate.
And because you are stressed, you procrastinate as a form of self-care.
But you don’t know any of this is happening so you beat yourself up for not finding the time to write and that makes it even scarier and harder which means you avoid writing even more…
If you want to find more time to write a nonfiction book or content to promote your book, you need to tie writing and even thinking about writing to feeling calm.
To feeling emotionally safe.
A simple way to do that is with your breath, like a few rounds of box breathing. When you sit down to write, when you think about writing, and especially when you are beating yourself up for not writing, do a few rounds of box breathing.
Or you can do anything that calms your nervous system while you write or think about writing. Singing, stretching, yoga, other breathing techniques like alternate nostril breathing, anything that regulates your nervous system and feels good to you.
Just do a few moments or a few minutes. It will change your writing life.
This will help you find more time to write because you will waste a lot less time procrastinating as well as feeling foggy and uncertain and writing in circles.
How To Find Time To Write: Learn How To Write
One reason you don’t feel like you have enough time to write is because you haven’t learned a good process for writing.
Start by separating sitting down to write from deciding what you will write, from priming your creative imagination.
Give yourself a bit of thinking time or make a cluster map before you write.
For example, I think about what I want to write about that day on my morning run, then come home and do a cluster map.
Then I take a shower and eat breakfast before I sit down to write, giving the cluster map time to marinate.
This is a huge time saver and it stops your brain from procrastinating because you have a place to start writing.
Other more ways to improve your process, listen to this episode of my podcast Create out Loud.
From the national best-selling author of The Woman’s Comfort Book and Why Bother.
5 Ways to Start
Your Non-Fiction Book
You can write your book faster, easier, and better.
I’ve written 9 books with about a million copies sold.
I’m not one of those creepy people who make it hard to unsubscribe or email you again nine years after you’ve unsubscribed. Giving me your email is like a coffee date, not a marriage proposal.
How To Find Time To Write: Because You Live In A World That Doesn’t Value Writing Or Art-Making Until It’s Successful
I used to desire nothing more than to be on a national best-seller list and sit on Oprah’s stage. Then I got both and you know what?
The feeling of being good enough, of being successful, didn’t last.
In fact, after my Oprah appearance, I got depressed!
That’s because I hadn’t learned yet to value my own work, to choose me, to savor when I write something I’m proud of even if nobody else pays attention.
To find time to write make it a practice to acknowledge, even celebrate, every time you write not because of what you wrote or how good it is, but because you showed up.
Research shows this approach will motivate you to keep showing up more than focusing on the prize or the outcome you desire.
How To Find Time To Write: Because You May Need Help With Some Of The Tricky Bits Of Writing A Nonfiction Book Or A Novel
Everybody writes. We all write emails, reports, memos, social media posts, postcards and even letters.
This often leads us to think writing a nonfiction book or a novel should be a relatively easy cakewalk (did you love the cakewalk booth at the school fair or hate it? Always made me nervous) because everybody writes, right?
When in fact, writing a book is like herding wet cats through quick sand while wearing Spanx (although I threw my Spanx out years ago and now my favorite bra is made my Spanx which is just proof the world is getting weirder by the minute).
Here’s my very biased belief (after all, I am a writing coach): you need help writing a nonfiction book or novel. I think it’s darn difficult and unnecessarily painful to do alone.
Yes you can read great writing books and have a writing group and take one off classes, but figuring out what your book is truly about, designing an elegant effective structure, resisting the urge to write to everyone you want to help, and staying focused as you finish or write a book proposal? Holy smokes, not easy.
Learn more about my services or sign up for one of my free “Find your nonfiction book’s hook.”
How To Find Time To Write: Because Consistency Is Often An Impossible And Even Pointless Goal
I work mostly with writers who identify as women and if there is a single idea I have to work hard to get them to pry their fingers off of it’s that they aren’t a writer unless they write every day or write consistently.
This model of writing every day is a male model.
It’s a model based on the idea someone else is tending to the daily details of life, of permission slips and meal prep, of playdates and driving mom to the doctor.
It also places the act of generating new words as the most important thing you can do, but if you don’t know what your book is about and what you want it to do for you, inevitably you will find yourself writing thousands of words, and hundreds of pages, that don’t add up.
If you want to find time to write a book, then stop setting arbitrary writing goals of writing a certain amount of words every day and start asking yourself, “What is my book about?” and “Why am I writing it?”
Get clear on this first and then set up a flexible schedule that leaves wiggle room for your life.
Research shows being flexible in your goal can make you more successful over time than a rigid schedule.
How To Find the Time to Write even with a Full-Time Job
Forget setting the alarm 15 minutes earlier or giving up your favorite show to write before or after work because if those suggestions worked, you’d be writing, not reading this. 😜
Instead, try one suggestion from this post for one week.
Focus on a simple habit of making it feel emotionally safe to write (even if you don’t feel at all on edge).
Or, prime your writing time and never come to the page cold again.
Try celebrating each writing session and each small goal you reach–no need for a parade and a trip to the Seychelles islands, a simple hand on your heart and a “I did what I said I would do” -a will do.
Get help if you are writing a book. I’m a crackerjack nonfiction coach!
Adopt flexible goals that leave you some wiggle room and are clearly tied to what you want, not just to generating words.
The Most Important Thing to Know About Finding Time to Write?
It’s rarely about poor time management–really and truly so let yourself off the hook!–and almost always about mood management, finding ways to outsmart and retrain your brain so you lower the uncertainty factor, and knowing why you are writing what you are writing.
Writing doesn’t have to be so much of a struggle! I promise you can find the time to write!