Ten tricks For creating time to write

Greetings, Storytellers. Diana here to chat about a common obstacle faced by most writers – lack of TIME.

I hope I’ve intrigued you with the post’s title. If you’re like me, you have one heck of a time finding a single measly hour in your day to write (or partake in any creative venture). Work, kids, spouses, parents, chores, and a myriad of other obligations frequently get in the way.

And we’re not willing to give these “distractions” up. Some of these time-consumers are pure pleasure. Others … not so much. But to some degree, they all vie for our attention. Time to write gets squeezed and, on occasion, it surrenders altogether.

How do we create more time to write?

Some of the suggestions below are tried and true time management techniques, and some are strategies that I’ve used with short-term and long-term success. What works for one person, may not work for the next, so think of this as a boilerplate from which you can pick and choose.

1. Honor Your Dream

With everything that bombards us in this fast-paced world and gobbles up our time and attention, we might start by asking ourselves how important is writing in our lives. Where does it rest in our list of priorities? Does it bring us joy and fulfillment? Are we frustrated when we put it off or when we’re yanked in multiple directions?

If the overall answer is “Writing is important to me,” then we owe it to ourselves to take the necessary steps to carve out time. We need to establish the mindset that writing time is sacred time. None of the following tips will work if we don’t honor ourselves and our dreams.

We might not be able to quit our jobs or send Junior to live with the neighbors, but we can cut down on time wasters, we can prioritize away some of the less important activities that gobble our time, and we can value what we do.

2. Block out time on your calendar

One of the challenges when it comes to time is that we often don’t treat writing like we do a dentist appointment or lunch with friends. We write those commitments down in our calendars so we don’t blow them off. We honor those appointments because we feel they’re important, and if other things pop up, we try to schedule around them.

If we value our writing time, we need to treat it the same way: write it down in a calendar, schedule around it, and show up for the appointment. If writing is your chosen vocation, treat it with the same respect you would a job. If you don’t show up, it better be for a great reason.

3. Learn to say “No.”

Along the same lines as blocking out time on your calendar, writers often need to learn to say “no.” It’s hard for many of us (not just writers), and that word is sometimes impossible to pronounce. Because we write at home, we have a lot of flexibility, and some people might assume that translates to oodles of time. The writers out there know this is a world away from the truth.

What we do is incredibly slow work, which makes our time all the more precious. We have to ask ourselves if we are using it wisely when we agree to give it away. Often, the answer will be a resounding yes!  But let it be a thoughtful yes, one that understands and respects the value of what we’re sacrificing.

4. Figure out where the time gobblers lurk

For a week or more (yes, you can do this) keep track of how you spend your time. Lug around a notepad and jot down what you do during the day and how much time you devote to each activity. Include work, lunch hours, driving time, chores, social media, reading, waiting for appointments, exercise, etc. Then tally up the results.

Some time-gobbling items on your list are fixed necessities. You might find a few tasks you don’t want to drop even if you can, and that’s fine. But you’ll probably discover some eye-openers too. Those are your opportunities to make changes. Even an incremental change can make a difference.

5. Prioritize using the Quadrant Method

This is a time management technique to use when everything you have on your plate starts feeling a little messy or overwhelming. It’s a helpful tool to view the data collected in step 4. Simply divide your tasks into one of four categories (quadrants) to help you prioritize, and then tackle them in that order. I do a mental version of this at night before bed and jot down a to-do list for the next day.

# 1 Do – important and urgent items that must be done today (work, kids, writing).

# 2 Schedule – important but not urgent items that deserve your attention at some point (time with friends and family).

# 3: Distractions – not important but urgent items that still need to get done. (House cleaning and grocery shopping fall into this one. These are good items to divvy up with the spouse or family),

# 4: Ignore – not important and not urgent (playing Candy Crush, watching television, or checking Facebook).


6. Reduce your screen time

I can play Candy Crush and other mind-numbing games on my phone for hours. My husband can watch puppy videos equally as long. Some writers can easily spend a lunch break on Twitter, or start their mornings catching up on Facebook. And, I should add blogging into the mix! On a posting day, I can easily spend 6-10 hours blogging.  

Is playing Candy Crush more important than writing? Not for me. Will I stop completely? No. But what happens if I cut my game-playing and social media time by 25%. That can add up to 5-10 hours each week.

Time management gurus frequently suggest a timer for those of us (myself included) who lose track of time and suddenly realize 2 hours have zipped by. I use the timer on my phone. It’s constantly chiming at me, but it works.

7. Rise and Shine

Some of you are probably night owls. Perhaps you’ve discovered it’s your most productive time, and you can pour out the words between dinner and midnight without a problem. If that’s you, skip to number 7!

I get up at 4 a.m. every morning, including on weekends. By 4:30, I have my coffee at my elbow, and I’m writing. I see some of you rolling your eyes and whispering, “No way.” But hear me out.

If I need to leave the house at 7:30, I’ve already managed three hours of writing time. If I write until lunchtime, I’ve got almost 8 hours! 8 Hours of writing, and I have the rest of the day for other stuff!

As you can imagine, I also roll into bed between 8 and 9 at night. What am I missing by turning in early? Mind-numbing Candy Crush and mind-numbing television. In other words… I’m not sacrificing anything of value.

Maybe 4 a.m. is too early for you. What about 5 a.m. or 6? If you decide to get up an hour earlier, resist the temptation to check email or run a load of laundry. That extra hour is for writing. If you’re not going to start your day with it, block it out on your calendar for later and honor it.

8. Television.

Even if you don’t like getting up early and going to bed early, you can probably cut down on the time staring at the television. Watch your favorite shows and then turn the thing off and reclaim your time.

9. Chores

This one is easy for me since I already loathe household chores and do the least amount possible. A couple ideas here… delegate to others in the household so chores are more evenly distributed. Remember you are a writer; that’s your job, and the family has to adjust.

Another possibility is to give yourself a limited time for daily chores, like 30 minutes. Set the timer and then stop! Do the most important chores first, so what doesn’t get done doesn’t become a major emergency.

10. Take Care of Yourself

Finally, writing can be intense work. Some writers put a lot of pressure on themselves. There’s never enough time, and just getting a decent page written can take hours. Then there’s the need for a social media presence and marketing plans and blog posts.

On top of that, there’s the push and pull of life including the people we value and the mechanics of juggling all our different priorities. Writers often don’t get enough exercise, don’t drink enough water, and are plagued by interruptions to their best-laid plans.

Stress is part of life, but it also wastes time. Sometimes the most effective way to optimize writing time is to take a break from writing. Enjoy other parts of life, get some exercise, visit friends, go out for lunch, tend to the garden, and start fresh tomorrow.


What are your thoughts? Is writing time a challenge for you? Might some of these ideas get you an extra hour or two a day? Do you have any suggestions that I’ve missed?

Happy Writing!

114 thoughts on “Ten tricks For creating time to write

  1. Much needed post Diana ! With so much on the platter, one does leave the best for last and often … being last on priority then goes out of mind too! Thank you for sharing these insights !!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great points. Cutting out most TV is what gave me time to write my books. I also used my commuting time to make notes and write down story ideas. It’s amazing how you can find extra time to do something you love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true, Darlene. That’s awesome that cutting out televison gave you the time to write your books! You’re proof that this works if we’re a bit disciplined and take our priorities seriously. Doing something we love is a big part of it too. Thanks for adding your experience and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Diana, this is a great post. I think I am very good with my time and I am able to control my time spend on social media with an iron fist. I spend time in the morning answering comments on my two blogs and I read posts in the evenings. If I am in a queue or waiting for something, I will often read a few posts through Jetpack (which I am loving) and check my FB posts. It is amazing how much time we spend in a queue waiting for coffee or at the pharmacy or waiting to pay. I get in a good 30 minutes a day on FB and Instagram that way. I don’t watch any TV, get up early (but not 4am that is insane) every day, and never procrastinate so I get stuff done asap so I can move on to the next thing. A lot of people as me how I do so much and this is how. Haha! I am very good at multi tasking.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Alrighty, I’m back btw clients and meetings. GREAT POST with sound methods and great tips Diana!
    10 hrs blogging on posting days .. i have to say i get it unfortunately. in my mind it should take 1 1/2 -2 hrs max a day. That’s my probs.. thinking I can do more when I don’t have enough hours.
    The timer method actually is a great one.. thanks for the reminder. Writing unlike other jobs with all of our follow us is a lot. I’m debating not responding back the second time but I can’t help myself. 💞

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lol. Blogging is a tough one, Cindy, because success often translates into a growing time commitment, and it requires constant adjustment to our schedules to make time to write! Right? Lol. Thanks for taking the time to visit. Hugs.


  5. I sit down at my computer with the best intentions – SQUIRREL! Sorry – that happens a lot around here. I really like that quadrant method – I could see myself using that. Time limits are something I’ve been using lately also. Thanks for the tips, Diana!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha ha. If things are going well, I don’t use any of the strategies on this list, Teri. But when my stress strobe starts flashing, I can usually get back on track by implementing some of these. I love timers! Especially when the buzzer goes off and I can stop housecleaning! Thanks for the visit and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post Diana. I always outline what I’m doing the next day so I can gauge my time and projects. Years ago I was a morning writer. In these past few years I find my best ideas come late at night. I’ve been a nighthawk all my life, as far back as 6 years old that I can remember. 🙂 And I do understand your 6-10 hour blog sessions. I dedicate 2 evenings a week to catch up on blogs – that’s why I’m sometimes late showing up. Lol. 🙂 ❤


    • Hi Michael. I was thinking about that as I pulled it together. It doesn’t apply only to writing but to any time we might feel pulled in multiple directions or stressed out by too many responsibilities. I tend to follow these tips every month of so when I need a reset. Enjoy my friend. Hugs.


  7. The dreaded “T” word—time. Oh, if there were only a way to magically balance its demands throughout the day!

    I love your list, Diana. Because I work a full-time job, time has always been a challenge for me. I learned many years ago to treat writing as a regular commitment. Sunday afternoons are my set writing time. If I’m lucky, I’m also able to steal several hours on a Friday. Keeping those regular appointments had helped me become productive while balancing the other demands of life, I look forward to the day when I’m retired and can squeeze more time for writing out of the week. In the meantime, I stick to the schedule that has worked for me over a decade.

    Now, if only I could master saying “no,” now and again, I’d probably eliminate some stress, LOL!


    • I don’t know how you manage it all, Mae, but having a committed block of writing time makes a lot of sense. The weird thing about retirement is that it can be super busy – just ask Joan! Learning to say no will be imperative. I say “yes” a lot, but I’m better now at protecting my time. I’m glad you’ve found something that works. You certainly do produce! Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a timely post, Diana. I am nearing the end of one of my projects. It’s been a struggle to find quality time to write. I edit for other authors, so when my work day is done, I am not eager to dive into more stuff–even if it is my own. I like your ideas here. I will look for ways to employ your suggestions.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad it was helpful, Beem. I still struggle and probably always will because life doesn’t happen in an orderly fashion. I tend to fall back to some of these strategies when I’m yanked in a lot of directions and my writing isn’t happening. It’s grounding. Happy Writing, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. A super post, Diana. On the television front, I allocate my TV watching by recording all the shows I want to watch. In this way, I’m not caught drifting from one show to the next. Once one is finished, that is it for the night. My recordings take me from season to season, so there is no hiatus. I do fit in the weather on live TV, but that is a ten-minute deal. So I invest one hour and ten minutes to TV, and that’s all.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thank you for sharing your tips with us. I am retired now. I manage to get in my morning pages, but I always could use more writing time. Back when I had a day job, I used to get up at 5 a.m. and write before I went to work. Less television time is crucial. I agree that social media can steal a great amount of time.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great post and suggestions, Diana. It is hard to find that time to do everything we want, so we do have to choose. I’m with you about housework, I do what I have to… lol. Yes, it is important to take care of ourselves first so we can do the rhings we enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the visit, Denise. Yes, self care has to come first. Housework… last. Lol. I’m in agreement on that point. I know you’ve found time to write even though you’ve been busy. Congrats on the new book! Hugs.


    • LOL. I”m not as organized as Jacqui, Judi. This is a wish list more than anything else, though I try to do most of these strategies, usually when I start feeling overwhelmed. Your comment about dust made me laugh. Finishing a scene is definitely more important than dusting! Happy Writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I love this list. I wish I’d had this list decades ago when I decided to put off writing until I had time. Now, my method is simple. Since I’m addicted to writing, I give in to my passions and just write. Cooling, cleaning, everything else is put aside! Sigh.


  13. Wonderful post on great planning tools! Thank you, Diana. Like you, I’m an early riser. While the home is quiet, I tend to focus on writing or responding to blogs. As the hours pass and the noise increases, I do the mechanical things of life — clean, grocery shop, prepare meals, garden, etc. When it quiets again, I write. Circumstances shape my pace more than anything. Sometimes I can moderate those “circumstances”, but often not. My challenge is to go with the flow – accepting it all graciously. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • “Circumstances shape my pace more than anything.” That’s my situation too, Gwen. I can get carried away on screens though and use up my writing time with nothing to show for it. Going with the flow is a great way to handle writing time when life dictates our schedules. ❤ Happy Writing, my friend.


  14. So much that chimes here! Saying no, though, is still very difficult for me and I do value time with the family and make them a priority. Housework, though, is something I loathe. I don’t mind if it’s something major that needs doing where I can see that I’ve made a difference, but dusting and window cleaning come very low down on my list of fun activities! Like you, I’ll set myself a time limit to do everything that HAS to be done and will keep going until that half-hour is up. I’ve not heard of the quadrant method before, but it turns out that I’m already following it. For me, the things that are difficult to manage are email and social media – I know so many other lovely people now and want to support them in the same way they’ve supported me. I now try to avoid all social media stuff over the weekend and it’s almost a relief as Friday evening approaches and I know I don’t need to respond to any messages until Monday. Excellent advice – many thanks! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Trish, and for sharing your challenges and solutions. I love the idea of weekends off from social media, and I know some authors who do that. I haven’t been able to manage it yet. Someday. Sigh. One of the wonderful things about this community is how everyone is so devoted to supporting each other. Time consuming, but we get back so much in return, and the friendships are worth it. It’s all a balancing act, isn’t it? Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Your ideas are fabulous, Diana! It hasn’t been difficult to write a poem a day because I can sprinkle it in during a bit of downtime at work. That is when I respond to emails and comment on blog posts. Separating a block of time to write for my novel is a whole other matter. After April’s poetry month is over, I am going to work on creating a schedule that allows me to write at least twice a week. It maybe not be much, but after my full-time job, my part-time job, my mom duties (single mom here), my household responsibilities, and other errands that must be done, the days are full from before dawn until well after the sun sets. Still, I will find a way because I miss writing, and I have too many stories I want to work on. Thanks for these ideas, Diana!

    Yvette M Calleiro 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you saw a few tips and tricks that may help, Yvette. I didn’t start writing until I was 50 because unlike you, I just couldn’t manage it all. So kudos to you for even writing a poem, let alone novels. I know you’ll get there. Hugs, and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. This is such a timely post, Diana. I never have enough time to everything. None of us do. But I love how you started the post by questioning how important writing is to each of us. I know the answer to that is different for everyone. For writers with contracts to fulfill, there is added pressure. I like the idea of the quadrant and making lists. I love playing word games. I try to limit my playing to no more than thirty minutes, but with Wordle, I may spend thirty minutes trying to find one word. 🙂 Saying “no” is the hardest for me. My biggest life lesson is in setting boundaries. When my kids or grandkids ask me to do something, I have a really hard time saying “no.” I’m getting better and still learning and growing. This list is super helpful, and I am printing off the quadrant chart to really take a look at a typical day. And just how important is writing to me? Thank you for raising that question. Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Jan, and I’m glad the post gave you some things to think about. I’m often my own worst enemy when it comes to stretching myself thin and putting writing on the back burner, even though it’s important to me. Part of that is just life, but part of it (playing games on my phone) is pure laziness and procrastination on my part. Sigh. I’m determined to set aside a couple of hours today! Hugs, my friend, and Happy Writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I am also an early riser, 4:00 am did not scare me at all. 😀 I do like your idea about prioritizing my to do list. There are things I know that I could eliminate, but I haven’t.

    One tip that I find useful is to do writing sprints. I did this with a few friends and I find it helps a lot. At one point we had a Facebook group specifically for this. It made me block off time to write. This also gave you a place to discuss with other writers before or after. It’s important to choose a manageable time for the sprint. As a group we chose 30 minutes and posted our word count after. The key is not to get discouraged if you don’t get large amounts of words down, not everyone writes at the same speed. Another important part of writing sprints it to not get side tracked. If you are doing the sprint, that is all you do. It needs to be treated as a task that must be accomplished.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your comment made me smile, Michelle. We have so many tricks, challenges, and deals to get ourselves writing. Your sprints remind me a little of Nanowrimo in terms of making our work a priority for a set amount of time. Sprints, of course, are much more manageable. I tend to need big chunks of time, but why not a 2-hour sprint? I could handle that a few times a week! Or a week-long mini-Nano? Then I could reward myself with chocolate or something! Lol. Thanks for the tip! That was a good one. Happy Writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Like you, I’m an early riser. I pray and watch the news to start my day, so I’m not at the laptop at 4:00 (usually). That’s time I won’t give up. But I do love the idea of doing a daily assessment to see where the wasted time is so we can reclaim it. Excellent suggestions, Diana.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much for the visit, Staci. We each need to find what works individually for our lifestyle and responsibilities. If we’re trying to carve out a little more time (for any activity) a daily assessment is a great tool. I hope you give it a try and find an hour or two of time to use more consciously. Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Excellent tips, Denise.
    When I learned to say “no” it was a game-changer. I still struggle with it from time to time, but my family and close friends know I don’t allow anyone to interrupt my writing time. After multiple interruptions, I had to lay down the law: from 7a.m.-5 p.m., pretend I’m not home. I also wear headphones, which helps me ignore the world. 😉 Social media was the toughest obstacle. Now, I don’t check-in till late afternoon AFTER I’ve met my writing goals (includes blogging).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your discipline is inspiring, Sue. And I think it shows in your work. I’m so impressed. You’ve got the gears spinning in my head. Hmm. Thanks for the comment and proving this can be done if we’re committed and serious about making writing a priority. Have wonderfully productive writing day!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Great tips, Diana. I’m a morning person and I still wake up most days at 5:00 even after retirement. It’s funny, however. I need time to “get my brain in gear.” I try to begin writing around 8:00 or 9:00, depending on what else is going on. For many years, evenings were the only time I had to write. I’ve found that between 7:00 and 9:00 in the evening is often still my most productive time.

    Now, I’m off to play a little Solitaire. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha ha haha. I do have to do the daily Wordle before starting writing. Lol. But that’s all or hours will pass. I’m glad you’ve discovered what works for you, Joan. My evenings are shot since my husband is home. It’s my multitasking time (chatting with him while getting other stuff done). 🙂 Have a wonderful day and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing your approach, Harmony. It’s amazing how much time screens can gobble up. I love the idea of taking whole days offline. I wonder if I can do that? Even once a week would be awesome! Great tip. Have a wonderful day and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. These are great recommendations, Diana. Reducing screen time is a big one for me. After leaving Facebook last year and cutting back on Twitter and IG, my productivity has increased tremendously. Saying “no” has always been a tough one for me. Due to family circumstances, I’ve been left with no choice but to turn down opportunities both professionally and personally. The good thing is with age, I’ve lost the guilt. Terrific advice! xo

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’m not surprised that you reclaimed a lot of time by reducing screen time Jill. It’s amazing how that can gobble up the hours. I understand the “family circumstances” and how that impacts writing time. I’m in the same situation (with my dad). My writing time is down, but since there’s nothing to be done about it, I just go with the flow. Family takes priority. Hugs, my friend. And happy writing.


  22. Fantastic recommendations, Diana. #7 has been and still is my ticket to writing hundreds of words before others stir. Rising between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. seven days a week, when I’m done writing, there’s still plenty of day left to enjoy other activities.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Pingback: Ten tricks to creating time to write | Legends of Windemere

    • Grocery shopping is time consuming, isn’t it? I share that one with the husband, so once in a while I reclaim a few hours there. Here in the boonies, the grocery store is 45 minutes away. I’m glad you’ve tackled that one, Sarah. Happy Writing!


      • That’s sounds great, Sarah. I don’t iron at all – that’s how I get out of that chore. Lol. BTW your gravatar has a bad link. I get the message: “21211.wordpress.com doesn’t exist” when I try to visit you. You probably changed your URL at one point but didn’t update your gravatar. Let me know if you need any help on how to fix that. 🙂


  24. Great post and so relatable. Ah yes, household chores! Unfortunately, I am self diagnosed with OCD, meaning I battle constantly with cleaning and keeping the house tidy. My 3 kids obviously don’t care and wife, like you, loathes house chores. Add in a full time career, commute, gardening, shopping, endless errands…..
    You know what, just shoot me!

    Liked by 5 people

  25. I’m a mess I know. My television stays on 24/7. I need the background noise to sleep and to work. It helps drown out the buzzing in my ears. I only watch bits and pieces of the tv except during certain times (and never the same certain times). My best writing times are from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. If I try to write other times, it’s usually wasted. I’m a night owl. Since I retired, I sleep when I get tired and I get up when I wake up. I’m getting very little done right now because I’ve been on a day schedule. I don’t do well with schedules and although I try and may have good intentions with them in the beginning, and I may even adhere to them for a bit, they are always pretty much short-lived. However, I do love to procrastinate by making them up. I love spreadsheets, they are my biggest procrastination projects. 😀 I have two Daily Writing Spreadsheets I’m using now. One I record everything, including editing, planning, writing, creating book covers, working on my website, looking for images, etc. The other is just for the book I’m working on at the time and is saved with the Book’s initials. I keep one for each book too, but only record time spent writing, editing, and planning.

    Liked by 4 people

  26. Excellent post, Diana! The thing that strikes me most among these excellent tips is labelling grocery shopping and meals as unnecessary distractions. I’ll have to think about that one! But as you remind us, not all these strategies will work for everyone. I do like the idea of writing as a job that has primary priority, rather than a hobby or amusement to squeeze into leftover moments. Finally, it’s easier to make time for writing that demands to be done, as opposed to projects that feel more like obligations to the writing life than obsessions.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Probably distractions isn’t the perfect word, Audrey. They fall into that “must be done, routine, chore” category for me. “I’m perfectly content if my husband does them instead of me. I might squish them in between other tasks or multitask while doing them. Some of these time management quadrants label them “Delegate,” but that doesn’t work if there’s no one to delegate to, so I left them as distractions. And I totally agree that how we think about our writing affects the way we prioritize it. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and Happy Writing!

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