Making time to write

Many of my students have to cram their writing time into tiny spaces in the day. Over the past couple of years we've brainstormed many ideas to see how they can find more time to write - over the next couple of days I'll share them with you. Here's the first batch:

1 - Know your limits - If your writing time is limited, planning how you'll spend it is crucial. Faffing around with half a dozen different ideas means you get up with nothing achieved.

2 - Organise your day - Many of us juggle writing, parenting, working and domestic responsibilities, not to mention social lives. This takes discipline and organisation, so why not make sure your writing gets the attention it deserves. Makes lists for the tasks you must complete. Decide how much writing time you can allocate daily, even if it’s only five minutes, and add it to your task list.

3 - Develop time-Savers - The less time you spend on mundane tasks like research, the more you have for actual writing. I have a standard template I use for stories, including the Dickensian title, and I follow the same four-paragraph structure whenever I write a query. I also have a list of questions I ask myself every time I send submission to a journal for the first time, and a database to record the answers. Look for ways to cut time from other tasks you do more than once.

4 - Invest your time - Some chores take time now but will pay off in the long run - like inputting data into a contact database. I'd rather spend a minute noting ideas when they strike than planning to do it later and then forgetting, inspiration doesn't follow a timetable and smart writers grab whatever their creativity produces. If I'm on hold on the phone, I'll use the time to do some background research for a story, or send follow-up emails to editors.