3 Ways Writing Pros Can Find Time for Their Own Writing

writing for yourself

Yesterday I answered a question about finding time to write. That sparked a question from forum member, Sharon Hurley Hall who asked “How do I find time for my own writing?”

If you’re successful in building a freelance writing business writing for others like Sharon is, you’ll run into the same question. I know I have.

Again, it’s a matter of setting priorities. When, however, you have contracted with clients for writing that amounts to full time or more, it can seem impossible to figure out when to write your novel or your poetry or your book, etc.

Obviously, you want to get the client’s writing done on schedule because that’s how you get paid. Besides, you promised and keeping your word is important.

Here are three tips that may help you carve out a little, or even a lot of room for your own writing:

Track your time

I think every writer should track their time, at least their working time, every now and again for a week. I use Toggl which has a free version and is super simple to set up and use.

The reason I think you should track your time is to see if you’re really working as efficiently as you think you are. If you find time leaks, you may be able to plug those holes with your own writing.

More likely though, is you’ll discover you are spending your time about the way you think you are.

Take a stab at designing your ideal day. I like using a spreadsheet for this. Block in the time you want to spend writing on your own projects first and see if you can schedule the client work around that. This is one way to start taking your own writing seriously because you’ll have a visual representation of your writing and the work you do for clients.

You can get a lot done in short blocks of time

Sure, we all love having a long, open ended period of time for our own writing. But it’s not always possible. It’s amazing how much you can get done even in 10 or 15 minutes a day. The first person to notice that writing a page a day got you 365 pages was absolutely right. Those short blocks of time add up if you’re consistent with them.

It can feel awkward to enter and leave a piece you love writing in such a short time, but with practice it will begin to feel natural.

You can arrange your schedule as you please

One of the joys of freelancing is you can arrange your schedule pretty much as you want. Sure there are family obligations, and what-have-you, but your work time is your own.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying the first hour of your work day is for your writing, and sticking to it. If a client asks for an 8 o’clock am call, you say you won’t be available until 9 – they don’t have to know why.

The same thing can be done with the last hour of the workday. Be wary. It’s much easier to slip personal writing time in the afternoon because the writing for clients will tend to expand.

Some people write for clients during the day, and for themselves in the evening or even late at night.

It really doesn’t matter when. What matters is finding the time, scheduling the time then using the time for your own writing no matter what!

When you need, long, luxurious writing time, and sometimes we do, take a weekend or go on a writing retreat, either official or one you create yourself.

Yes, when your work is writing for others it can be tough to fit in working on your own projects. Go for it. You and your writing will be better for it, and you do deserve to write for yourself.

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman



Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by Pascal Maramis

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon Hurley Hall February 5, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Thanks, Anne. Great tips – I like the “page a day” theory – it makes it seem much more manageable. :)

Cathy Miller February 5, 2014 at 3:28 pm

I know setting small chunks of time is much more manageable and not so overwhelming. I need to figure out when that is. Originally, I bought a new laptop with the idea I would spend time before going to sleep on personal writing.

I go to bed early and wind down by reading for 1-2 hours. The plan was to write instead. So far, that hasn’t happened. I so love my reading time. I need to figure out a Plan B.

Thanks for the suggestions & inspiration, Anne.

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