Hey, you. Yes, you—the one with the storied dreams and the demanding imagination. You need to TAKE the time to write.

The Fundamental Secret to Finding Time to Write

I'm sorry to say this, but that time will never materialize on its own.

You Will Never Find Time to Write

I know how hard it is. You have a family. A job. Responsibilities. You have Important Things to Do and Tasks That Must Be Done.

You won't find time to write between those things.

You have children crying and a needful beloved, a house that needs cleaning or a desperate desire for time with your friends to unwind. There's nothing wrong with that.

You won't find time to write between those things.

Maybe you have a chronic illness that leaves you listless and exhausted and fearful you'll never make it as a writer. Maybe you may have a Day Jobbe (to quote Jay Lake) so brutal that you almost feel like time with your loved ones is rented.

I know. I get it. I HAVE a chronic illness. I can tell you truly that you won't find time to write. Here's the secret: you will have to take it.

You Must TAKE Time to Write

By this point in your life, you know there's no such thing as free time. It's always filled with things before you even get there—good things, mostly, things that have a valid reason for eating those minutes. This is where the rubber meets the road: if you want to be a writer, you must take time from other things—yes, other good things—and devote it to your writing.

This means taking time from your family. This means taking time from your friends. This means taking time from other hobbies, no matter how awesome they are. This means calculating how much energy you'll have at the end of the day and budgeting writing time.

You have to take the time to write because it will never materialize on its own. 

Be ruthless about protecting writing days. […] Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.”
—J.K. Rowling

Let's make this practical.

  • Is everyone together for the holidays? Wonderful! Take fifteen minutes from family time and go work on your novel.
  • Are you an exercise fanatic? Good for you! Cut fifteen minutes from your usual daily 10k run and go work on your novel.
  • Do you jealously protect your evening Netflix-and-red-wine time? Darn right! But take fifteen minutes before your Doctor Who marathon and go work on your novel.
  • Does your body have its own ideas about what may or may not be possible? Plan in advance so you have fifteen minutes of energy to go work on your novel.

Taking Time to Write Is Worth It

This is difficult, I know. Our days are so packed full of good and important activities that it feels like we don't have time to write, but that isn't true. The truth is we have 1,440 minutes to use every single day.

Good golly, that's a lot. Maybe carving 15 out to write isn't so extreme after all.

You can do this, beleaguered writer. Take a look at your day and make the call. Take the time. Write.

What have you taken time from to write? Let us know in the comments!


It's your chance to put this into practice. Today, I want you to consciously take fifteen minutes away from something else and write like you're being chased by hounds. Write without hesitation; don't give yourself time to question or self-edit. Take that stolen time and use it well.

Write, then post whatever you wrote the comments. Your fellow writers are taking time from good things, too! Don't forget to leave comments on one another's work.

Best-Selling author Ruthanne Reid has led a convention panel on world-building, taught courses on plot and character development, and was keynote speaker for The Write Practice 2021 Spring Retreat.

Author of two series with five books and fifty short stories, Ruthanne has lived in her head since childhood, when she wrote her first story about a pony princess and a genocidal snake-kingdom, using up her mom’s red typewriter ribbon.

When she isn’t reading, writing, or reading about writing, Ruthanne enjoys old cartoons with her husband and two cats, and dreams of living on an island beach far, far away.

P.S. Red is still her favorite color.

Share to...