“I’m much faster now. When you only have a certain amount of time to write, after a while you learn to use your time well… or you stop writing.”
Like anything else in life, good writing takes time. If you’re like me, however, time is one thing you never seem to have enough of!
I’ve become painfully aware of this fact over the past two weeks. The fall semester has officially begun, and on top of working two jobs, raising two kids, and taking 15 hours in graduate school, I’m trying to find time to write each day. It’s crazy! Preposterous! And yet , if I want to share my thoughts with the world, it’s something I have to figure out.
What then? Do we quit writing and save ourselves the headache? Do we stop living our lives and lock ourselves up like modern-day hermits to make this writing thing work? I don’t know about you, but I don’t care for either of these options.
So we’re left with one choice: find ways to save time while writing, and make every minute count. How am I keeping my head above water? I’m constantly looking for creative ways to write around the clock. I don’t have two hours a day to dedicate solely to writing, so I have to find ways to squeeze a little writing in throughout my day.
Here are four tips that have worked for me:
- Download a Word Count App – Many of my writing projects, such as flash fiction contests or articles I plan to submit to magazines, have a specific word count. I downloaded a free Word Count app on my iPhone, which gives me the freedom of writing anywhere, at any time, without being chained to a desk. Honestly, my favorite time of the day to get writing done is during my lunch hour. I can go sit outside, get some fresh air, and the ideas just start flowing. If you only have a few minutes, write a little and get back to it during your next 5-minute break.
- Learn to Edit Photos and Articles on Your Smartphone – This can be frustrating at first, because you have to do things a little differently on a smartphone. Once you learn the basics, however, this can be absolutely liberating! Downloading the WordPress app allows you to edit blog posts just as you would on a desktop computer right from your phone. Also, if you have a graphic on your computer that you may want to use later, just e-mail it to yourself. Then, using your phone, view the picture and take a screen shot (on an iPhone, you can accomplish this by pressing the power button and the Home button simultaneously). Simply crop the surrounding screen out of the picture, and this graphic is now a part of your phone’s Picture Roll and can be inserted into your posts. This way, the next time your kids are playing at McDonalds, or you find yourself sitting in the parking lot or in a waiting room, you can grab your phone and put those few precious minutes to work by editing your photos and scheduling posts.
- Put Your Mind to Work – Many writers complain that they don’t have much time to sit in front of a computer and type, but writing is much more than that! You can actually do the bulk of your writing completely hands-free! While driving in the car, washing dishes, or doing yard work, you can brainstorm about article ideas, organize a mental outline for your next post, come up with catchy titles, and sort out exactly how you want to word a particular thought. This makes those moments of “busy work” more productive, and when you do have time to sit and type you won’t have to waste so much time on preparation.
- Keep a Pen Handy – Never be without a writing utensil of some kind! Great ideas may dawn on you at any moment, and even though you may be busy, it only takes half a second to jot down a note. My wife keeps a miniature notepad in her purse for this purpose, and I’ve learned to record my ideas on sticky notes, receipts, napkins, or the “Notes” app on my phone. This way I can pin an idea down and save it for later. You don’t have to write the entire article in that busy moment… train yourself to write in shorthand. Just jot down a memorable word or two that will give your brain a jumpstart the next time you’re out of ideas.
These tips have helped me to stay afloat in the writing game, but I won’t pretend to have it all figured out. If you have additional tips and tricks, I’d love to hear them! Every time I turn around life gets a little more hectic, and I’m always on the lookout for ways to save time while writing!
How Do You Make Your Time Work for You While Writing?
This post was submitted as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group – a group of writers who agree to post about the frustrations of writing as well as provide encouragement and helpful tips for others on the 1st Wednesday of every month.