Judy McNuttJudy McNutt
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HOW CAN I WRITE WITH NO TIME TO SPARE?

The #1 complaint/question I get from most women: How am I to write anything when I have no time to spare? I’m glad I finally heard your question!

Today I share some habits that will literally create time for your writing. While still working full time as a teacher I completed an entire ghost-write for a publisher in under six months of writing! Of course, before I began, I was sure I had neither the time nor the bandwidth to accomplish my goal. I was working full time at a job that didn’t give me time to write or spend time doing research. I was attending school for a what amounted to 2 full days of classes each week, never mind reading and homework!

In the midst of ghost-writing the book, giving the students at school my full attention, and focusing on my education enrichment courses, I also had a life-partner and children who needed and deserved a full measure of presence from me.

Today I’m on the other side of that project. I did it! I delivered a book when I seemingly had no time to do so. Now I am working with busy women who long to write even once a week in a writing group. They want to know, “How am I going to have time to write anything when I have no time to myself?”

Here are some habits I hope will help you create project time:

1. Calculate how many words you would need to write per day, but do write SOMETHING every day, no matter what! Progress, not Perfection.

I felt nearly overwhelmed at the thought of writing 250 pages in under six months from the sparsest of outlines; I figured out that if I wrote a page-and-a-half or about 525 words a day, I could finish writing this book in about six months. RESOURCE: Here’s a words-to-pages calculator!

If I can write 525 words a day, anyone can write that amount. Anyone. Keeping things down to a manageable amount allows you to hit your goal and to celebrate small victories every day along the way. I made myself a Words Already Written thermometer to color in each day. (Once a teacher, always a teacher! LOL)

Plot your plan out on your calendar, or schedule WRITING TIME into your phone calendar! Use the Repeat function!

2. Sleep and Diet are Clarity and Creativity Muses

Many writers indicate that they lose a lot of rest while living deep in the throes of a manuscript. Sleep deprivation is not a helpful idea. I don’t know anyone who can write a “good” anything — without the ability to focus.

I recommend a plant-based diet with lots of raw juices to get you juiced-up to write or do any creative work. I know this works because I do it! Some folks use coffee or some other caffeinated beverage to get the juices flowing while writing, but this doesn’t mean you can avoid sleeping.

Seven to eight hours of sleep per night is vital to comprehensive writing, but the plant-based diet is the real edge. Just sayin’.

What to do when The Suckies Strike.

3. Encouragement Strategies-

LoveNotes: (Cheery little sticky notes!) and my “What to do when the Suckies Strike” List

I didn’t watch ANYTHING on TV while I wrote this book. I put little notes on the edge of the TVscreen reminding me to keep going! “Only 3 more pages to (goal)!” etc. A nudge to keep writing.

Bathroom mirror notes said, “Look at you! You’re a WRITER!” “Got 5 minutes?” “You are birthing a dream into reality!” etc.

With so much going on, I had plenty of days in which I was tempted to give myself a sudden day off. I never took an unscheduled day away from the project, and I always wrote SOMETHING every day (sometimes just for me!). The notes and my posted list were a constant reminder to keep on truckin’.

4. Are you geared-up to capture ideas and quotes?

A super busy, prolific writer-friend says, “The best ideas always come at the worst times. You never know when you hear something that has to go in the book. You never know when a brilliant idea will come for a chapter that you won’t write for another two months!”

I recommend the Notes feature on your iPhone or Ulysses for always-available, across-devices note-taking because they work from phones, tablets, and computers. A small cheap notebook that you always carry with you, a pad of lined sticky notes, or a simple stack of 3/5 cards aren’t bad options, either. There is no such thing as too many notes when you’re writing that first draft.

5. Keep on Keepin’ On!

You need a mindset while you write. It might as well be a positive one, which will help you no matter what. “Today I make progress!” “What piece will I complete today?” “Yes, you can, do more!” Of course, you can and should take time off. Give the mind and the body time to rest and fill the well. Nourish the soul and spirit, too. Downtime is necessary for the sake of your sanity. When “writing” is on your calendar though, don’t skip it! That will give Failure a chance to seep into your schedule. Premeditated breaks promote success!

6. The “D” Word.

Worthwhile endeavors require time, presence, and effort. Writing is no exception, so Discipline has a role to play!

Successful novels and screenplays written over a long and sleepless weekend are a vanishingly tiny number. Your work requires the Will to stay with it every day, whether the finish line is far off in the distance or rounding the bend.

All of us with other jobs and responsibilities, who are not free to just write, must use Discipline. Healthy habits help you succeed!

7. For the Writing of it.

a.) Don’t edit until your first draft is complete. Actually, this should be a habit all it’s own!

b.) Find an accountability buddy or “Write With Your Tribe!” What are you longing to express? Who in your life supports that? If the answer is a big, hollow, “No one!” consider joining a supportive writing group either in person or online. Here are a few options here for you!


Now, what is your thinking?
  • What habits help you write when you don’t have the time?
  • If you use music for inspiration, what music do you find helpful?
  • What method do you use to capture random inspirations that pop up during a busy day?
  • What do you WISH you were writing? Make a note of it, right now!

Happy Writing!

Dr. Judy, Heart-Centered Writing Mentor and Muse

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