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How to Find Time to Write (Even if You Haven’t Got Time to Write)

Posted in creativity, discipline, finding time to write, Getting published, Independent Publishing, Learning to Write, Productivity for creatives, prolific writer, Writing a novel, and Writing Tips

How Can You Find Time To Write?

The question of how to find time to write is a good one and deserves a good answer.

We can feel so overwhelmed by the daily routines that we imagine there is no time to write. Source: Public Domain

If finding writing time matters to you, I’ll guess that you’re aiming at writing professionally. Of course, once you achieve that goal – the goal of being a professional writer – then you’ll have all the time you need, the time you put into the day job right now, because that is how you’ll be earning your living.

But how do you find time to write – and write every day – when you still have to hold down a tiring day job, deal with the domestic routine, cook, shop, clean, spend time with the kids and all the other business of a regular life?

I’m going to answer that. Really. And I’m going to give you my best answer. Before I do, just let me say that I’m sure, even without knowing you or your circumstances, that you can find the time to write. I’m not sure it will be easy, but I’m sure it can be done. I’ve been earning a living from writing for several years now. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to the testimony of some famous writers who have written their first works while tackling hardship and the stress of the daily grind:

How J K Rowling Found Time to Write

Multi-million bestselling author J K Rowling was a single, working mum who wrote her first book in any snatches of time that she could find. Source: US Federal Government: Public Domain

This lady has become the best-selling author of all time. But she started writing the book that would sky-rocket her career when she was still a struggling single mom, working from pay check to pay check as an office secretary. She didn’t have the luxury of a dedicated place to write – she couldn’t even choose the times of day that she wrote. But she wrote one word after another, even if that was just a sentence or two scribbled furiously in ten minutes she could snatch here and there.

Whenever Jessica fell asleep in her pushchair I would dash to the nearest cafe and write like mad. I wrote nearly every evening. Then I had to type the whole thing out myself. Sometimes I actually hated the book, even while I loved it.


Christina is a highly successful novelist who works hard to find time to write despite a busy family life and professional schedule. Source:

How Christina Baker Kline Finds Time to Write

Christina is a hardworking novelist published by HarperCollins who talks eloquently on her blog (Christina’s blog) about the difficulties of finding time to write among all the multitude of daily tasks that she can only just manage in any case by multi-tasking like crazy. Still, she did it. And if she can do it, so can you.

In almost every other aspect of my life, my ability to multitask is a good thing. Doing several things at once is how I’ve learned to juggle my various responsibilities: mother, wife, editor, teacher, volunteer. It’s the only way to keep all the balls in the air. But writing is not about keeping the balls in the air. It’s about letting them drop… You have to stop worrying about the fact that you’re wasting time. Of course you are. That’s what writers do.

How Stephen King Found Time to Write

Stephen King is one of the world's most prolific writers. He started writing while working in a commercial laundry. Source: Public DomainLove him or loathe him even his critics admire his gutsy dedication to his craft and the sheer quantity of writing that he has been capable of. Well, now he has a big house and plenty of time. But it wasn’t always like that by any means.

There was a time, as he explains in his book On Writing, when his wife Tabitha was working long shifts in a branch of Dunkin Donuts and he was slaving in a commercial laundry. At the same time they had two young children to raise. But he somehow found the time to write short stories and little by little he made his way.

How to Find Time To Write: The Secret Revealed!

One of the first things to realize is that those writers who made it to a professional level whilst still dealing with all the daily demands that you’re dealing with, had two special qualities in common: They all had a burning desire to write and a determination to succeed.

What’s more, they turned that desire and determination into an iron-clad discipline. They probably made some sacrifices along the way, too. But to them it was worth it and for them it certainly paid off. If you have the same qualities, there is nothing to stop you repeating their success.

Writing professionally is damned hard work. And finding the time to write takes wit, wisdom, discipline and sacrifice.

Still interested?

Okay, here’s my three step method for working out how to find time to write around all your current commitments, no matter what they are:

Step 1: There is No Perfect Place  

How to find time to writeFor now, forget the dream of a private place with hours of undisturbed creativity ahead of you. Learn that all writing is done one word at a time. If you can write a single sentence in a stolen moment whilst you’re waiting in line or hanging outside school to pick up the kids or first thing before you get out of bed, that really counts. Every word counts.

A short novel of 60,000 words can be written in a year if you can manage just 160 words a day. That’s equivalent to the previous three paragraphs of this post. Do you think you could manage that?

I bet you could.

Step 2: Prioritize Writing Over Leisure

I heard a writer once telling the story of how he found time to write. He was telling us about the writing group he used to attend every Wednesday and Friday evening for two hours. One day he was sitting there listening to the conversation that had turned to one of the usual topics: how none of them ever could find enough time to write. He experienced a small epiphany. He got up, without saying a word, went home and started writing. He never went back to the writers group. He spent every Wednesday and Friday night writing for two hours instead. He’s now a successful professional author.

Have you really not got time to write? What about the time you spend watching TV? Turn that into writing time. Or the time you spend chatting on the ‘phone or checking Facebook? Turn that into writing time. Or your trip to the movies or out to dinner? Stay home and write instead. Make some sacrifices. It’s going to be worth it, isn’t it?

Step 3: If You Can Speak, You Can Write doesn’t have to be written. Christopher Hitchens (like him or loathe him, he was a prolific author) said,

If you can talk, you can write.

If you have or can get a small voice recorder (they are not expensive) then you can ‘write’ out loud while you do other things.

You can dictate your article, your commentary, your story as you cook, iron, drive, anything. These devices are tiny, portable and slip easily into your pocket. You can use an iPhone or an iPod just the same. Carry it with you everywhere. You can type it up later whenever you get the chance. Or with the latest voice recognition technology, you can just load the audio file into your computer and it’ll turn it into text for you. How easy is that?

You Can Find Time To Write

So there it is. The chips are down. You can find time to write. And if you do; little by little, word by word, you will finish that first book or all those short stories or articles or blog posts, or whatever it is you want to write.

If you follow the advice given here, then you will also have the very real pleasure of being able to tell people that you are a writer. A writer is someone who writes. If you write, even if it’s just those 160 words a day (or even less) then you are a writer. Be proud of that. It’s quite an achievement. Keep the faith, be confident, and write, write, write as if you had the very devil on your heels just whenever you can.

There is no greater folly than to do nothing because you could do only a little.

Just one final word. The most important thing during the time when you are pushed to squeeze your writing time in around all your other duties and obligations is not to keep going back and editing. That can come later. The most important thing is just to keep driving forward, plowing ahead and pushing the work on to its conclusion. Get it finished.

When you have those 60,000 words all captured on paper, take a break. Then come back and edit it, finding the time to do that in just the same way you did when you were finding time to write it.

Then, when you’re happy you’ve done the best you can with it – send it off to a publisher or an agent or if you’re an Indie, engage an editor and cover artist to help you prepare it for publication.

Then forget about it. You’ve learned how to find time to write. You’re a writer. So crack on with the next piece and the next. You know the only thing that can really stop a writer from writing? Death. I’ll admit that being dead is a real stumbling block to productivity. But aside from succumbing to the beckoning of the grim reaper, there really is no excuse.

If you are still alive and you can talk, you can write.

Get to it and good luck!

And while I only have five books released at the time of writing this (all published in 2016) I am practicing what I preach. I have another novel and three novellas in progress and all scheduled for release by the end of this year. And that’s on top of my “day job” as a commercial copywriter. Don’t ask me how many thousands of pieces I’ve written for that!

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Image credits: all images (apart from the book covers of my novels and the photo of me) are in the Public Domain and were sourced via the Creative Commons. Click on the image to reveal the name of the artist and the work in the address bar.

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  1. I liked #2’s story. Made me smile. I’m sure that guy was glad he gave up on attending the writing group.

    September 17, 2016
    • Austin Hackney
      Austin Hackney


      That said, I do think a good critique group can be a very helpful tool to any writer – and many well-established writers I know continue to attend them. But the key is that everyone in the group is actually writing (not just talking about it) and that they are prepared to give and receive no holds barred critiques.

      September 18, 2016

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