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How DO I find time to write?

There's one question I get all the time: how do you do everything you do? How do you make time to write?

At any given time, I have at least five to ten projects I'm working on. Right now I'm currently working on two novels, have another two I'm plotting, and am writing two papers for two academic publications. AND I'm writing other business-related writing, like IRBs. Sometimes I worry that I don't spend enough time on my creative writing. On Twitter I always see people doing NaNoWriMo and "sprinting." Do I wish I didn't have two kids, a full-time job, graduate coursework, and a house to manage--and that I could just do Nano? Sure. Totally. But that's not most people's reality. We all have to fit things in when we can. So here's how I do it (myself--and there's no one right way).

I make time every week for just creative writing. OK-you've heard this before. But I don't write every day. I don't even write every week (when life-like a recent concussion-gets in the way). But MOST weeks, I write Saturday mornings for three hours. And ALMOST most weeks, I write for another hour on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Most importantly, I write at a weekend silent writing retreat at least twice a year, and sometimes three times a year. When I go to those writing retreats, I just write. I don't go to learn craft, or to make connections. I just write.

Another way I make time in my very busy life for writing creatively is to participate in two-week and month-long writing and artistic residency programs. I highly recommend Vermont Studio Center if you're interested in a good starter residency.

And if life does get in the way, as it has recently for me, a great way to push through it is to realize that all writing counts as WRITING even if it's not toward a particular book.

Writing really is writing. It doesn't matter what type of writing you're doing, you're honing your skills. And even though Joe Bob Briggs would tell you to write everyday-he really didn't mean in one style. He meant in any. It was the first and best advice I got: WRITE.

What do you get credit for?

Can it be a Tweet?


Can it be a review of a book you hated on Goodreads?


Can it be a novel you completed in seven days?

YES! (wait, really? How did you do that?)

All the writing counts, and you can pat yourself on the back for all of it. It can be anything at all. So, even when there are weeks when I can't write creatively in the schedule I outlined above, I try to give myself credit for the writing I am doing, even if it's an IRB application. (SIGH). And you should too. Because the question at the heart of the question I always get (how do you do all these things and find time to write???) is really--how come I can't? Or maybe, it FEELS like I can't find the time to write. Or, it feels like I'm not writing what I want to be writing as often as I think I should. And so, sometimes I want to answer that question with my own question: what do you wish you could make more time for in your life? Is it writing? If so, start by giving yourself credit for the writing you're already doing. Then make yourself a writing time plan. There now, don't you feel more accomplished already?

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