Time Dieting: Maximize Writing Time

Writing is my passion. I’ve been at this crazy endeavor since I penned my first “story” about a battle between a chimera and a swordsman (big D&D nut here). But now, decades later, I have a full time job and a family. Oftentimes, my writing time each day is a scant fifteen minutes. But I’m on a mission to change that and maximize writing time.

By the Numbers

My most recent novel is on track and chugging along well. But with a busy schedule, I discovered that I typically average a chapter every three weeks. I don’t tend to dash out my chapters. They usually come out fairly polished. But that’s not to say that there won’t be revisions coming when the first full draft is all done.

I ran the numbers and calculated how long it will take if I stay on this path. As of August, 2024, I had about a quarter of the manuscript completed. With the three weeks per chapter ratio in mind, it will be March 25, 2025 for the writing to be completed. A year and a half later. 

I can’t wait that long. 

Limited Options

I don’t have the luxury of dropping everything and writing for weeks straight. My job simply won’t allow that. Plus I love spending time with my family. I know us writer types are supposed to be isolated and wrapped up in my work. But I’m of the belief that the most important things in life can’t be sacrificed. 

There has to be a way to bake that cake and pig out on it at the same time.

Cut Anything Can Be Cut

Once I established the vital things in my life (my family and my employment) anything else was on the chopping block. I tend to love reading the paper in the morning. But that ten to fifteen minutes can be shifted to writing. Now, I carry my writing with me everywhere so when I have fifteen minutes in the car, I can get to work. This means not getting sucked into social media and the like. 

My goal…to double my writing time. Then, I can cut that final completion date in half. 

Shift Tasks Away from Writing Time

I write best in the morning. But I already wake up crazy early (4:30) and struggle with limited sleep as it is. What I can do is shift tasks away from the morning, freeing up time for writing. 

I plan to set up my writing area the night before so that I’m ready to go. This might only save five minutes. But that can add up. I also typically journal in the mornings. Shifting this to the prior evening can save even more time. Additionally, I set up everything I need for the morning (breakfast, clothes, etc) so I can focus on the manuscript. 

Situations Vary

Of course, your life and writing process are different from mine. But the process of gathering more write time is the same. 

  • First, establish your non-negotiable s. Those things you can’t sacrifice. 
  • Next, look for things to cut from your day. Be ruthless.
  • Finally, shift tasks away from your ideal writing time.

We certainly won’t be able to bang out a novel in three months like Stephen King. But perhaps, with some time dieting, we can squeeze a dribble of minutes or Horus into our writing schedule. 

Tim Kane

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