How To Schedule Writing When You Can Only Write Part Time

by Anne Wayman

part time writingYes, it is possible to have a profitable writing business even if you work full time. It’s not easy and most find they either want to switch to freelance writing as their main source of income, or decide to let most of the writing go until a different time in their life.

The trick, of course, is to figure out how to write regularly, with discipline and persistence. For nothing will happen if you don’t write and write often.

Here’s an approach to developing a writing schedule when you have a full time job or a family or both.

First, Write down the way you’re actually spending your timeToggl is a free, web based time tracker that can help. Or you can do it in Excel, on your smart phone or just on a piece of paper. You need to be able to look at a fairly typical week and see exactly how much time you spend at work, on your commute, and/or shopping and running your kids from place to place.


Look for an hour or more you can write - The most obvious probably involves getting up an hour earlier or going to bed an hour later. I was able to make the former work for several years, never the latter. There may be other times – lunch hour is another favorite, particularly for those who get an hour for lunch. Maybe you could stop at a library of coffee shop and write on the way to work or on the way home. Or maybe, when you actually look at your schedule you’ll spot something you’re doing that could be dropped to create writing time.  How about instead of the nightly news, either the early or late edition? You get the idea – pick one.

Make an appointment with yourself for that hour – a real appointment. Tell your family and/or friends and co-workers  you won’t be available during that hour; don’t take phone calls or instant messages. Put the hour in your calendar for a week and watch what happens.

Track for a week and see if you keep your agreement with yourself – if you do, fine, extend it another week and see if it’s really working.

If you don’t keep that agreement, don’t beat yourself up. Just notice that you didn’t and ask yourself again if you really want to write now and if you do look at your schedule again. Decide if you want to keep to that schedule or change it.

Make an appointment with yourself again. Keep repeating this until you manage to carve out a regular time to write.

The regular time to write might be only two hours on the weekend, or an hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Or maybe only 30 minutes on a regular basis or even only 10 minutes – whole novels can be written 10 minutes at a time if you really write during those 10 minutes.


If you discover you simply can’t keep to any sort of regular writing schedule you’re either going to have to be content with writing on the fly, or give up the idea for the time being. Most, however, find they can work something out.

Know too, that at least some of your scheduled time will need to be devoted to the business side of your writing. And that your schedule will change over time.

How do you schedule part time writing?

Write well and often,

Anne

Working with a writing coach may be exactly what you need.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Dann Alexander May 29, 2013 at 1:31 am

Early Mornings, 4:30 up and at it. Whatever it takes, whatever works.

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annew May 30, 2013 at 6:29 am

Dann, you’ve beaten me by 30 min… of course now I don’t start until about 6, but back in the day it was 5 am and right at it… good for you.

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James from Online Timesheet Software August 26, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Toggl looks to be very popular these days. I love your idea of making an appointment with yourself. I think if you treat this like a business, you’ll tend to be more serious in making this work.

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annew August 27, 2012 at 11:57 am

exactly.

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Ron - SEO Copywriting Services July 4, 2012 at 11:41 am

Keeping that appointment with oneself is the “hardest” part of all. As a writer, it always helps to be lonely I guess.

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annew July 5, 2012 at 9:05 am

lol, living alonee, well, with two cats, but… keeps many of the distractions down… but not all.

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John Soares July 3, 2012 at 8:33 am

Great advice Anne. Most people could find more time for writing if they dropped unimportant activities, especially watching television.
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annew July 3, 2012 at 11:59 am

Thanks John… as I think I’ve told you I don’t even have a tv because I can’t be trusted not to zone out watching it.

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Ali July 3, 2012 at 6:49 am

Just like Anthony Trollope, the great novilist. His worked as a clerk
in the British Postal Department. Used to write for two and a half hours each morning before going for work. This schedule was simply ironclad. If he was in mid-sentence when the two and a half hours expired, he left that sentence unfinished until the next morning. And if he happened to finish one of his six-hundred-page heavyweights with fifteen minutes of the session remaining, he wrote The End, set the manuscript aside, and began work on the next book
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Ali July 3, 2012 at 6:50 am
annew July 3, 2012 at 11:58 am

Actually ending mid sentence is also a good way to start the next day knowing where you’e headed. Thanks for that.

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Grady Pruitt July 2, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I’ve got a date every Sunday night after I get home from my “day job” to write the post I usually put up on Mondays. That’s been working for me lately.

During NaNoWriMo, I just try to find whatever time I can to write. The trick is to get consistent about writing. Having a schedule helps. I’ve found, though, that I waste a lot of time. When I get really serious about writing, I try to steal from that time that I’m wasting watching TV and other activities that don’t do much to get me to my goals.

One thing I’ve found that helps is even if you only have 15 or 20 minutes, set a timer and do nothing but write until the timer goes off. I find I usually get anywhere from 300 to 600 words in 15 minutes and can usually do 1700 words or more in just 4 or 5 of these 15 minute sessions.

Thanks for the post, Anne!
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annew July 3, 2012 at 11:54 am

A timer is a great help, Grady… I’d forgotten I use one… I actually have http://e.ggtimer.com/ bookmarked so I can get to it in a hurry. In fact I think I’ll post about it.

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