Make Time to Write, Part 3: Fit It in Around a Full-Time Life

The day of the average adult American with children looks like this:

In sum, no one has time for anything. Except 1.7 hours of “Other.”

If you’re a writer who also has a full-time job, and/or kids, or other non-negotiable demands on your day, here are some small ways that you can get some of your bandwidth back without becoming a shut-in or sending the kids to boarding school, along with the dog. 

1.Write in the car. Four months ago, I went to Barnes & Noble about bought my first Moleskine. Buyers’ remorse struck about five minutes later, so I left the notebook in my car, along with a pen . Soon, I began writing in my car. When to write in your car: On your lunch break, at your kid’s soccer practice, when waiting for someone to find the milk and eggs already and leave the grocery store, before you pull out of the parking lot to drive home from work. When not to write in your car: At red lights, in the drive-thru, in the slow lane on the highway, or in traffic (unless it’s the gridlocked kind where people leave their cars and start having tailgate parties).

2. Write in the car, revisited. Despite what most commuters in Connecticut evidently believe, cars really are made for traveling at high speeds between destinations, and most of the time you’ll spend in one won’t be conducive to actual, pen-to-paper writing. Instead, write out loud with a digital voice recorder. (Protip: To put everything you said on paper without typing it out yourself, put the microphone speaker up to the voice-to-type recognition app in your smartphone, and press Play. Voila, you’ve got a written record of around 80% of what you said.) If you feel ridiculous talking to a recorder in the car, use the driving time to brainstorm what you’ll write about when you’re not in the car.

3. Eat six small meals a day Write tiny amounts several times per day. Stop trying to carve out a  three-hour window to go on a writing binge. What are the chances that everything will go perfectly and nothing will interrupt you while you’re in literary Narnia? Instead, use the little moments to yourself as prime writing time (and I mean the really little moments). Waiting for that sauce to reduce? Grab a pen and paper and write while you’re at the stove. On hold with the cable company for the fifth time this week? Put your smartphone on speaker mode, and jot a note on Evernote while listening to the Muzak. Or…

4. Write in the bathroom. Seriously. Don’t pretend like you’ve never texted someone while sitting on the toilet. The average First World person spends 60 minutes a day in the bathroom, according to the (absolutely real) National Association for Continence. Use that time wisely, and don’t forget to wash your hands, because gross.

5. Piggyback writing onto another habit. Every morning (okay, most mornings), I wake up early to go running before I get ready for work. I added in around 30 minutes of writing time by getting up 15 minutes earlier, cutting my runs short by 10 minutes, and speeding up the shower/blowdry hair routine. Yeah, I miss those 15 minutes of sleep, but I get over it pretty quickly when I started hitting my writing goals every day.