Whether or not you write for a living, you probably have a lot of other responsibilities, like a day job, school, or parenting. Still, finding time to write is necessary for any writer who wants to make a career out of writing.
This means that if you want to become a writer, making time to write despite a busy schedule needs to be a priority.
You might get advice from writers about prioritizing writing time that works for them but doesn’t feel practical for you.
Regardless of where you are in your writing life, there are a few foolproof ways you can fit writing into your busy schedule, even if it’s stacked with non-negotiable responsibilities.
Learning How to Juggle Writing with Work and Life
I recently graduated college. Like a full-time employee and parent, I had a lot on my plate.
I worked multiple jobs, had a full class schedule, and was involved in the theatre. Writing was my passion, but finding the time for it was impossible. There was never space in my schedule to write.
That’s when I realized that the reason I couldn’t fit writing into my schedule wasn’t because I didn’t have time to write, but because I was looking for impractical time slots based on how I was currently using my time.
I needed to change how I approached my calendar. And so, I did—adjusting my calendar with these three foolproof ways that prioritized writing in my busy schedule.
By using these strategies, I eventually made the time to write a few hours every week.
And as you probably know, any hours are better than none!
3 Foolproof Ways to Fit Writing into Your Busy Schedule
It can be tough to fit any amount of time to write into your busy schedule. Still, despite how busy a person is, they can usually set aside some time to write—and make the most of that time—if they prioritize it in their schedule.
To help you uncover some free time for writing, consider these three writing focuses:
- Prioritize Your Time to Write
- Create Writing Goals
- Find Accountability Partners
Each of these which are covered in depth in this guide.
Prioritize Your Time to Write
We all know the feeling of a packed schedule. Morning meetings, afternoon appointments, evening practices; sometimes it feels like the day slips right through our fingers. But, chances are, there’s an activity or two in your schedule you could move around for writing time.
Whether you use an analog journal or Google calendars, I want you to have your schedule in front of you while you go through the rest of this post. The visual of your schedule will help you create the most optimal writing time.
To configure ways to prioritize your writing in your busy schedule, consider how you work around these four categories:
- Non-negotiables: responsibilities whose time commitment can’t be changed
- Negotiable tasks: responsibilities that can be done at a more flexible time
- Optional activities: things you like to do, but never have to be done
- Writing slots: time in your schedule you’ll work on your writing
Throughout this post, I’ll go into these four categories in more depth. Focusing on how you can write in spite of these categories consuming time in your life.
Take a look at your weekly schedule and find those non-negotiable responsibilities.
These are the time slots in your day that you don’t have control over changing.
For some people, this looks like a nine-to-five job, a class schedule, or shift schedule. For parents, it could be taking kids to soccer practice or another important activity.
It’s any time in your schedule that somebody else, like a boss, coach, or a professor, has blocked out for you and is, typically, non-negotiable.
When considering how to find time for your writing, mark these times in a bold color like RED, or, if you’re going monochromatic, with a symbol that means highly important to you.
Next, think about the tasks that must get done every week. Maybe that’s studying and doing homework. It might be grocery shopping and cleaning the house. Anything that has to happen during the week, but has a more flexible schedule we’ll call the negotiables.
For now, jot down these tasks and put them off to the side. We’ll come back to them when we look for areas you can fit writing into your busy schedule.
In another list, think about the completely optional activities that you do.
This could be a yoga class, a painting class, or a cooking lesson. This could even be sitting down for an hour to binge Netflix or watch The Bachelor every Monday night, or sleeping in on Sunday mornings.
We don’t need to get rid of these fun activities to make time to write (in fact, you’re probably a better writer if you save some mental space for leisure like these!). Still, finding time to write means compromising with these activities—not using them as procrastination tools.
Here’s how to do that:
On a scale of one-to-ten, rank these activities on how important they are to you. If you can’t function without an early morning yoga class, by all means keep attending.
But if you aren’t enjoying your cooking class any longer, it might be time to stop.
You don’t need to cross anything off your list just yet, but you do need to be honest with yourself about what activities mean more to you than writing, and what can be pushed aside in order to find time to write.
I recommend looking at anything you’ve listed as a six or below when making cuts.
Keep this list nearby.
Now you have your non-negotiables scheduled and locked in. You have a to-do list of your negotiables and your optional activities.
Before you start to schedule these into your calendar, we need to think about what time of day would be best for you to write.
Many morning people love getting up first thing and writing ten pages before work.
Some night owls (like me) would much rather stay up into the late hours of the night writing.
What time of day do you prefer to write? Which chunk of time do you have the most creative energy to focus?
Notice I didn’t ask which works better with your schedule, but what time you want to write. This is important. Make note of that.
Now ask yourself:
“How many days do I want to write? And which days, specifically?”
You might love a midweek pick-me-up writing session, or a weekend writing binge. Make note of this as well. You’ll be a lot more likely to actually take the time to write if you enjoy writing at the times you pick. Better yet, you're more likely to make a healthy writing habit out of this time slot if you enjoy writing when that time comes.
If you can really get into a writing zone, instead of worrying about other responsibilities outside this writing time slot, you’ll be much more productive.
Once you have these days and times picked, look back at your schedule and your non-negotiables.
Is your ideal time to write open? For example, if you want to stay up late on Tuesday night writing, is that time is available? Maybe check out Wednesday morning as well.
If you have a non-negotiable in your ideal writing time, see if the next best thing is available. Don’t think about your negotiables or optional tasks quite yet.
Mark out your writing times in your schedule as green, or with a different symbol.
Putting Together a Writing Schedule That Works for You
With the non-negotionables charted into your calendar, it’s time to schedule your negotiables.
I want you to try to fit all of these tasks around your writing time that you marked out.
To do this, try following these scheduling tips:
Batch your schedule
If you have a list of errands for the week, see if you can get them done all in one outing. Maybe you can drop your kids off at practice and go knock out a few errands. If you’re a student, try getting all of your assignments done in only one or two sittings.
Mark these tasks in blue on your schedule, or with a different symbol.
Now return to your list of optional activities.
Start with the ones you marked as most important to you. Do they still fit into your schedule? If yes, great! If no, here are some options to support your writing process:
Compromise with your optional tasks
If your optional activity interferes with a negotiable task, see if there’s a time you can move your task so you can still make that yoga class or watch that show every week.
If your optional activity interferes with your writing time, gauge which one is more important to you here: writing, or th task.
If you have multiple writing slots in your week, you might be more willing to give one up for your painting class. Do that.
If all else fails, maybe you alternate every other week between your writing and painting time.
Remember, you’re not trying to give up hobbies we love for writing. Being well-rounded is probably going to make you a better writer, because a lot of writing comes from experience.
But, you can’t become a better writer if you don’t write. Even if this means you don't have a lot of time to write, you need at least a little bit of time to puts words on the page, without distractions.
Trying to make a schedule that you’re happy with and that allows you time to write is important.
Being honest with yourself and prioritizing your tasks is key here.
This way, you can find out if you can fit everything you want into your calendar. Or if you can’t, decide what you’re okay with letting go.
Keeping a Writing Schedule Going After It’s Made
Establishing a strong writing schedule is important to prioritizing enough time to write. However, you don’t want this schedule to pitter-out a few weeks after starting it.
And because we’re busy, this might happen.
To help you keep that writing routine going strong, try these writing tips:
Create Writing Goals
You’re a busy person, and that might be more apparent to you now than ever. That means your writing time is precious. You need to protect it. And, you need to make the most of it.
Nothing is a bigger bummer than when you sit down to work and spend the time staring at a blank page.
Many writers, new writers especially, like to track their work by the word count or number of pages they complete. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of this method. These numbers can feel always arbitrary.
Rather than create lists, try to sit down with a goal in mind that is tailored to what you’re working on.
For example, if I’m planning to work on a blog post, I’ll pick a couple of sections of the post to work on.
If I’m working on a piece of fiction, I’ll pick a scene to invest my time writing.
Sometimes I slot out a brainstorming session for new ideas.
There’s no right or wrong way to use your writing time. As long as you feel like you’re making progress and gaining momentum in your work, you’re doing it right.
To help get you started, try setting your writing goals for this upcoming week. Answer these questions to help you pick what to work on.
- What works in progress do you already have?
- What new ideas have been brewing?
- Do you have anything that has a deadline?
- What are you the most excited to write about?
From these answers, pick what you’ll write about in any writing slot you’ve created for the week.
And when it comes time to write next week, follow through with it.
Find Accountability Partners
Finding time to write may seem like enough to get you to do it, but that’s not always the case. Especially if you’re busy and have other things you could and need to do outside your writing slot.
A great tool to help keep you motivated to write is having an accountability partner. This will be someone (or a group of people) who will help encourage you to continue writing.
They might check in right before your writing slot to make sure you’re still going to sit down and write. They might help you break any writer’s block, or get you back on track after missing a writing session.
This person can also help you celebrate after you reach your goals.
You just sat down to write for the first time in six months? Celebrate with your accountability partner!
Did you work out a scene that hasn’t been quite right? Celebrate that!
What good are goals if we can’t share the success with those we care about?
As writers we often forget to celebrate the small successes that lead to larger ones like publication. Finishing a draft is a success. Fixing dialogue is a success. Posting a blog post is a success.
Don’t forget to pause and appreciate the work you have done along the way, or you’ll never feel successful.
Find the joy in writing, and celebrate that with other writers who are experiencing the same accomplishments, big and small.
Writing is Possible—Even If You’re Busy
The biggest challenge in finding time to write is often getting started. Part of this challenge is finding time to write, especially if you have a busy schedule that seems impossible to work around.
By using the three scheduling strategies and writing focuses covered in this post, you can find ideal times in your schedule to get your writing back on track.
Having goals can easily be the best way to keep you motivated throughout the week, the month, or even the year as you solidify a new writing routine.
And of course, sharing your success with those you care about is such an important way to track your progress as a writer.
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How do you fit writing into your busy schedule? Let us know in the comments.
Why wait to start writing? I bet if you’re scrolling the internet right now, you can take some time to write—or figure out more time to write!
For the next fifteen minutes, seriously consider how to schedule more time for your writing. Do this by doing one (or more) of the following:
- Look at your calendar
- Pick a fifteen minute time slot to journal about an idea you’d like to write, or add words to your work in progress
- Set a reminder for that time slot
- Come up with a plan for what you will write during that time
- When it’s time, write! (Maybe that time is now!)
After you’ve taken the time to write, celebrate with an accountability partner, and by sharing what you wrote in the practice box below!
And when your time is up, comment on three other writers' pieces. Maybe you’ll find a new accountability partner in your writing community, or find inspiration for your next writing session!
Enter your practice here:
Michelle Renee Miller
After a decade of writing experience, Michelle is helping new writers become prose pros. Whether you write for a hobby or a living, Michelle's weekly delivery of new writing advice and free writing resources will keep you learning.