How To Find Time To Write A Book

in Books - How To Write, Publish, Market

sun clock faceIn both 4 Reasons You Probably Shouldn’t Write a Book here, and it’s companion piece over at AboutWritingSquared 4 Reasons You Probably Should Write a Book I mentioned the time it takes to write a book.

The first question that may come up is how long does it take to write a book? I can’t answer that. It really depends on you, your writing experience and the kind of book you’re writing. A book for kids might not take as long as an academic book that requires lots of research, but then again, it might.

It’s impossible for me to tell you how much time it will take. But maybe this will help:

When I ghostwrite I like to have at least six months and sometimes a year or more to get the book done. I generally tell clients I’ll devote between 10 and 25 hours a week to their project.

In theory, how much time can you spend writing?

One approach is to figure out how much time you could, at least in theory, devote to writing your book every day, or every weekday, or every weekend. Then cut that figure in half and start scheduling it in your calendar.

Why half? Well, if you’re like me you tend to be overly optimistic about your time. I know I’m always trying to cram 10 or 12 hours into 8. If I think I can devote 4 hours a day to a book, the chances are I’ll really only get 2 or 3 hours done. It’s easier to add time when you can, than to set yourself up for failure with a goal you won’t and probably can’t reach.

Experiment. See if you really do spend an hour every weekday on your book before you go to work, or every evening after dinner. If you do, great, could you expand it to an hour and a half? Even two hours? And if you don’t manage to carve out that hour is it because it simply won’t work for you or is it something you need to practice until you get good at it? If it won’t work, pick another time and experiment some more. If you think it can work, practice for a couple of weeks and see what happens.

Where folks find the time

In any 24 hour day there are probably places you could find an hour. Here are some suggestions:

  • Getting up an hour or so earlier and spending that working on the book.
  • Writing during lunch hour.
  • Writing before or after dinner.
  • Pushing back your bedtime an hour to write.
  • Eliminating one or more hour of television watching to write.
  • Writing during down times at the office.
  • If you’re a full-time freelancer, making the book your first hour or two – or, if you’re best in the afternoon, the last hour or two.
  • Taking public transportation to work and writing during that commute time.
  • Writing 3 or 4 hours on the weekends.
  • Taking a 6 month break from your real job to write your book – or 3 months or vacation time.
  • Quitting a job to write your book.

Even writing 15 minutes a day will, if you keep at it, get a book written and I suspect everyone, or darn near, can find 15 minutes at least five days a week to work on their book.

One truth about writing books is that if you’re committed, you’ll find away.

What’s been your experience in finding time to write?

Get some serious help writing your book with my Get Your Book Written With Vision & Spirit class.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

jorgekafkazar November 10, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Nice list of potential writing times, Anne. Some will read those and say, “Yeah, sure, like THAT’s gonna happen.” But time is where you find it, and finding it for writing is a matter of priorities. Almost everyone has things that they do that they like having done less than they like having written.

Another dimension to this is that, in what I write at least, often the gating item isn’t keyboarding, but thinking. Thinking time is a necessary writing activity. But ideas don’t always pop up just by flogging myself for x amount of time. I can easily out-type my creativity.

Ideas seem to be more elicited by the calendar than by the clock. So I keep 3×5 cards and a pen handy. No matter where I am, I can write down ideas as they come. That way, time spent on totally unrelated tasks can be used by the subconscious as productive writing time. I often awake with lines of text asking to be written.

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annew November 14, 2013 at 8:53 am

Love this sentence, Jorge: I can easily out-type my creativity. Yes, me too. Thinking time is critical and it happens sometimes in the strangest places.

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Charlotte November 8, 2013 at 7:53 am

I, like John, prefer to focus on my book writing first thing in the morning. My goal is to write 1000 words a day. It’s surprising how fast the pages pile up! You can get a lot done on a book in an hour or two a day.
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jorgekafkazar November 10, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Yup, yup, an hour per session or 1000 words is a very sensible target. I belong to a workshop that meets at 1 on Tuesdays. I usually sit down at the computer at 11 (not wanting to wait ’til the last minute) and get my 1000 words done in time to shower and drive to the meeting. I wrote a 104 chapter book that way in about three years, along with other projects. .

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annew November 14, 2013 at 8:54 am

Workshops where you are expected to read from your writing or at least have done some, are great.

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annew November 14, 2013 at 8:54 am

Me too, Charlotte.

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John Soares November 8, 2013 at 6:43 am

Anne, when I write books I try to block out the first couple of hours of the morning to focus solely on the book project. That’s often when I’m at my best, and there are also fewer distractions.
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annew November 14, 2013 at 8:54 am

My first couple of hours are best for me too, except when they aren’t ;)

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Kevin November 7, 2013 at 8:13 pm

I backed up quitting time for my night writing to 11 p.m. Only then will I let myself sit down in front of the TV. I am six weeks behind on my DVR viewing (don’t tell me who won the World Series!), but getting things written.

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jorgekafkazar November 10, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Great idea, Kevin. TV is lost time and I do very little TV watching. Unfortunately, I also read less, now, which I don’t count as lost time, just inconvenient.

The Skaneateles Axolotls defeated the West Dakota Wombats in the World Series, 4 games to 3. Too bad you haven’t been keeping up with Major League developments lately. Most exciting.

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annew November 14, 2013 at 8:57 am

Kevin, as a morning person that wouldn’t work for me at all… isn’t it great we’re all different. And you’ve got the discipline to finish a book, obviously.

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