I Have No Time to Write!


I Have No Time to Write!

Let’s face it—life is busy. There are always things to do. And another week goes by with no time to write.

Tracking my time

Many years ago, I decided to take up Steven Covey’s suggestion in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to track a week of my life using the table below. Here were my results:

Not important to life goals

Important to life goals

Not urgent






Okay, there was a slight flaw in the process since I found that things like showers, brushing teeth, grocery shopping, sleep, car maintenance, etc., while not important or urgent in the grand scheme of things, soon became both if I didn’t do them.

But it was an excellent reminder that because writing fell into the red box, I did very little of it.

And it also made it clear that I was never going to write regularly if I didn’t create some space for it.

Finding the time to write

You do really have to fight to make the space. It’s all very well to wait for the Muse to show up, but the way your life is going, you’ll be too busy to welcome her in.

So here are some suggestions on how to make the time.

  • Set a regular time to write. Whenever it’s the likeliest that you will have a block of quiet time. Instead of folding the laundry, make the commitment to put your bum in chair and write. Doesn’t have to be great swatches of time. Surely you can carve out two hours a week for your heart’s desire.
  • Protect that time. Don’t check your phone, don’t jump up to do that thing you’d forgotten. If friends want to see you during that period, just say, “Sorry, that doesn’t work for me. What about next Tuesday?” Family is tougher to put off but tell them it’s your time or put up a DO NOT DISTURB sign or close the door or all of the above. They won’t like it but they’ll eventually get used to it.
  • Write in a separate space. Ideally, some place in your home which you can use primarily for writing, reading, reflecting. Doesn’t have to be big or elaborate. Just a chair with a nice view. The home office surprisingly doesn’t work for me. Too many of those urgent/not important things lying around to lure me away. If you have to, find a coffee shop to set up in.
  • Join a writing group. There is nothing like peer pressure to produce a piece. My writing group meets over lunch, so anyone who doesn’t submit a piece has to buy dessert. Evening group meetings—pate, wine, cheap caviar?
  • Do writing retreats. I know people who use writing retreats as the only time they write. Not ideal, but again, it is making space for what is important. Two writing teachers who do excellent retreats are Sue Reynolds of Inkslingers and Barbara Turner-Vesselago of Freefall.

Make yourself a priority

Move what you care about into the important/URGENT box. Do as Harry Potter’s creator, J.K. Rowling, did and live in an infrequently cleaned place to write. I already have the dusty apartment thing down pat. I’m just waiting for the fame and fortune to kick in.