I am sure my life isn’t that different from most business people, whether you are a consultant, a high-level executive or operating your own small-to-medium sized business.
I have multiple roles and have personal commitments. I am a parent to a 23-year old, partner, friend, mentor, sister, auntie . . .
As a business storyteller I’ve got several clients I am writing stories/histories for at this very moment. And, I am a business book mentor to those on The Book Adviser program. Plus, I now make time for me . . . every day I exercise (walk, gym, meditate, read – pretty much in this order).
So, how do I find time to write?
Simply, I make time to write. I allocate specific times in my diary to write. Specifically, I allocate either half-days or whole days to write. I find that it takes me about half-an-hour to ‘get back into’ whatever writing I have done so I need at least three hours to make progress.
Given that I am working on several writing projects at any given time I also have to plan the time to write and the priority of what I focus on, and this is not easy.
So, here’s what I do.
1. Create deadlines.
As a professional writer I have deadlines, well, I agree to a delivery date for certain things, a first draft, revision, engagement, more revision and a final draft manuscript.
If I don’t have a specific deadline I make one. More often than not my clients are more reluctant than I am to commit to a deadline. They have the same fear as most writers. Commitment.
There’s nothing like a deadline to focus your attention. There are times/projects where I have time and am motivated and it’s easy to ‘make the time’. Then, there are projects that require more time and attention.
Whatever the project, who-ever the client I create deadlines and then focus on them.
2. Schedule writing time
Now I’ve committed to delivering a first draft (and/or subsequent drafts) I allocate time in my diary.
Over the years I’ve worked how much time it will take me (on average) to research and write a story/history/book.
As a first time writer you’ve probably got no idea how much time you need to allocate and, like most things, if it’s your first time, it will take you longer.
If you are a first-time book writer I recommend that you commit to at least two, 2-hour sessions per week to write. It’s better if you can make these 3-hour session, but for most business people ‘creating’ two meonings or afternoons a week is simply not possible.
The first half-hour of your session will be focused on re-reading stuff you’ve written, pulling out your notes, opening files, Bookmark folders et al.
3. Turn off the outside world
We’re all connected all the time. Well, not me.
One of the ways I make time to write is by turning off the outside world. Here’s my checklist.
i) Put the phone on silent and turn off vibrate.
ii) Turn off message notification on my computer – for everything
iii) Put a note up on my door (I work from a home office ): I’m writing. Everyone in my family knows what this means
iv) Make sure I have water, coffee/tea before I sit down
v) Complete all other ‘must-do’ things before I sit down (could be procrastination).
4. Turn on my writing world
I am fortunate that I have a study. Well, it’s my home office, study, lie down and read, sometimes spare bedroom space. Mostly it’s where I write.
My writing space is EXACTLY how I want it. It has books, paintings, things that make me happy and nurture my writing feeling.
And, it has music. Depending on how I feel or what I am writing I have different music playing and sometimes no music.
As I write this I am listening to
Earlier on in the day I was listening to Autumn by George Winston.
5. I give up other things to write
How committed are you?
I’ve made writing a priority. With ALL the roles and responsibilities I have to forego many things. I don’t go to as many networking events as I used to; I generally don’t go out to events during the week or the weekend – OK not at all, really.
I’ve learned to focus on my priorities across writing, my family and friends and my health.
And, I have learned how to communicate this to my family, friends and business colleagues.
6. I now know I am not Superwoman (maybe).
Superwoman can do superwoman things. She just can’t do them all at once. Neither can Superman.
I’ve always been ‘a writer’ but it took me 25 years of founding and running a business and a GFC to realise that I couldn’t run a business and be the writer I wanted to be. So, I didn’t/couldn’t write for 20 years. Throw in a growing son, then HSC years and there was little room for writing …. much as I tried,
I now have time to write because my life and business goals have changed (some voluntary some not).
The reality is that many of us who have started, own and operate businesses think we are Super-people, that we can do it all, and all at the same time. I’ve worked out that this doesn’t really work.
If you want to write, publish and market your book something has to give. You have to make a commitment and put your book project somewhere at the top of your priorities.
And, if you’re not ready to do this, own that. Stop talking about ‘when I write my book’ and say either nothing or I’m going to write my book in 2019/2020 … whatever date you pick.
One of the funny things we humans do is hesitate to articulate our goals because we know that when we do we’re accountable…to ourselves and our friends will ask us how we’re going.
Writing a book is exactly like this.
You won’t ever write or publish your book without a personal commitment to do this,
Change your self-talk from ‘I wish I had the time’ to ‘I’ll make the time.’
You might not be Superman or Superwoman and that’s a good thing. Writing a book is not about that flash of inspiration/energy, it’s about commitment to yourself and the values you hold and a genuine desire to share your insight and knowledge.
BTW, I secretly think I am Superwoman, just in disguise.