A writer friend, Laird Sapir, asked for people willing to host an author featured in Time Magazine for a blog tour. I, of course, jumped at the chance as did several others.
Sheryl offered up different topics and I asked for this one on finding time to write. I know many writers who have full time jobs, children, and other obligations and finding that elusive time to sit at the keyboard is sometimes tough to do.
Sheryl has some great tips and has used them herself to write.
Take it away, Sheryl!
A Writers Life: When you already have a full time job and a life.
by Sheryl Hoyt, writing as Saralynn Hoyt
My name is Sheryl Hoyt and I was recently featured in the December 10th issue of Time Magazine in the article “The 99¢ Best Seller” by Andrew Rice. In the article Andrew writes,
Over the years she [Sheryl] had completed five romance manuscripts, written on the bus to her full-time job in Seattle, over lunch breaks and on her couch after dinner.
This lends to the question, when do you find time to write? How do you fit writing into an already jam packed life? Here are some ideas and tips and tricks on keeping the muse flowing and stealing time to write.
Many years ago I did in fact lug my brick like laptop onto the bus every day with me and for 20-30 minutes in the morning and again in the afternoon on the way home, I pounded out a few pages as the bus bounced me from the eastside to downtown Seattle and back. Between powering up and shutting down, there wasn’t a lot of time to reflect. Lunch was a little more relaxed, but it was always a challenge to find a quiet spot to eat and type where I wouldn’t be interrupted. And although this worked for me 15 plus years ago and was how The Scoundrel and the Saint got written, it is not an option for me today.
But there are ways to get the job done in between all the other obligations in our lives. Here are a few ideas:
Carry a note book with you everywhere. That way if something pops into your head, you can take a few moments to jot down some notes so you can trigger the idea again later when you are in front of the computer.
A voice recorder for the car. I have a long commute to work, 45 or more minutes each way driving (the bus isn’t convenient any longer). Most days I’m listening to educational or inspiring audios, but some days, the ideas are flowing. I like to use a recorder and capture any dialogue or scenes that hit me. I just discovered Dragon software and invested in the program that converts from the voice recorder to text. I’m still learning how to use it, but the technology is out there.
If the muse hits, the kids, the husband, the cats and the housecleaning can all wait!!!! Even sleep can be postponed. It’s not the end of the world if you have a sink full of dirty dishes or need extra coffee in the morning.
Even if you don’t have time during the week to write, you can lock down a few hours on the weekend. Nowadays I tend to do most of my writing on the weekends. I’ll spend anywhere from six to eight hours both Saturday and Sunday only writing, taking breaks every couple of hours to clean the house, run errands and workout if I’m really feeling good.
Use TV to help you. If I have some show I want to watch, I set a writing goal for myself and once I make it, I can relax and watch the show. I also use TV as background inspiration. For example; when I was rewriting Heaven Made, I had Downton Abbey and The Buccaneers playing all day while I did a marathon rewrite.
Other times of day to write. I know a lot of writers who have children and they find the first few hours in the morning, before the household is awake, works for them. I already get up between 4:30 and 5AM for my day job, so that is not an option for me. But I do try to catch an hour or two after dinner to get some work done before bed.
Using these methods you can easily find 10 hours a week to write and a few hours for other writing activities like research and social media upkeep. For me this equates to about 50 pages a week. In a few weeks you can have a nice novella written, in several months a full length novel.
But what if you’re stuck?
We call it writer’s block, right? I don’t believe in it, as you can always write something. You just have to allow yourself to write some crap in order to get past it. The best way I’ve found to get the ball, or pen rolling, is to first go back and read the last thing you wrote. It will be much easier to move forward if you can pick up on the last momentum you had before you stopped. Sometimes I’ll even just start writing a dialogue that I’m having with myself about it or anything on my mind (work, food, mean people) just to have my fingers typing something, eventually I’ll get back to the story.
But what if you finish writing the book and don’t know what to write next?
This is another reason to have a notebook on you at all times. You’ll find yourself at the mall or in a restaurant observing people and think, I wonder what would happen if…
If you have a place to capture these ideas and thoughts you will be able to go back later and find your next inspiration fairly easily. Or, just try some stream of consciousness writing and see if anything comes of it. There are millions of stories and millions of ways to tell each one. I do suggest sticking to one story at a time. Immersion in your story, characters and setting seems to produce a better book and I can only assume a better read, which is what writers aspire to and readers want.
If any of you would like to know more about Sheryl, you can connect with her at:
And you can find her romance novel, The Scoundrel and the Saint at:
Thanks for the great post, Sheryl! I’ve used several of these myself. I especially like the just start writing advice. That has always helped me overcome any “block”.
What about you guys? Have you used any of these suggestions before or find a new one? Do you have a tip to share? I love hearing from you, so leave a comment. And as always – thanks for reading!