Strapped for Time? Try Writing in Bursts

You know the key to making progress on our writing projects is to write consistently. Ideally, every day. Because if that notepad is stuck in a drawer, or if you haven’t opened Word in weeks, then you certainly aren’t moving that story forward.

But you also know that dedicating significant time to writing on a regular basis can feel like an impossible task. Whether it’s laundry or kid wrangling or work, there’s always something that needs to be done first. And once the to-do list is finally, mercifully (temporarily) clear, mindless Netflixing is often much more appealing to your tired mind than putting in the energy and effort for a serious writing session.

So here’s what happens: When you don’t have the time or the stamina to devote several hours to your writing, you tend put it off altogether. This goes on for a few days, then a few weeks, then suddenly you’re entirely out of the habit. And the longer you put it off, the harder it is to come back to it.

You just don’t have time to write right now, you think.

But here’s the thing: You do. 

In foregoing writing altogether just because you can’t sit at your desk for hours, you’re letting perfection be the enemy of progress. The key is to accept that, at least for now, the goal of spending three hours a day with your manuscript is unattainable. Let go of that, and allow yourself to make new, more realistic goals. Goals you can keep. Goals that will move your writing forward.


Aim for ten-minute bursts, several times a day.

Think you don’t have ten minutes to spare? Think again. 

Once you start looking for ten minutes in your day, you’ll find a whole lot of short stretches you can carve out for yourself. Time that would otherwise be spent idly: Your lunch break, carline, waiting for the water to boil, or waiting for a meeting to start. All these are the perfect, ten-minute stretches for a quick writing session.

No, you may not have time to get deep into the flow of your manuscript; you may not lose yourself in your story or churn out a thousand words in one sitting. But you will learn to write on command. You’ll learn to be flexible with your writing, untethered to a routine. You’ll learn to focus and make the most of your time, rather than drifting back to Instagram “for inspiration.” You’ll learn to jump back into your story on a moment’s notice, and soon you’ll find yourself a more disciplined writer, overall. 

And soon you’ll find that story that was stuck in a drawer, half-started, waiting for your attention, is progressing more in those ten-minute bursts than you ever thought it could. (And when you do have those long, luxurious hours available to you for serious writing sessions, all this ten-minute training will mean you’ll be ready to take fuller advantage than you ever have.)

I know you're busy, and it's not always easy to dedicate hours to writing. But you'll be amazed to watch the pages pile up once you start building these into your daily routines.

How do You Carve Out Time to Write?

Let me know in the comments!

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