How do you find time to write? - Nikki Young

How do you find time to write?

I’m often asked how do I find time to write and the answer is quite simple – I don’t know.

Whether you work full time, part time or are a stay-at-home parent, there are never enough hours in the day and using any of this precious time to write seems, well, just plain old selfish.

I wish I could say I have this amazing schedule where I carve out time to get my daily word count done, but the truth of the matter is, I’m all over the place.

Dividing my day between school runs, dog walks and work means before I know it, I’ve run out of time for anything else. It seems writing ¬†always takes a back seat to everything and whether I subconsciously work that way or not, I couldn’t say.

This July I signed myself up for Camp NanoWrimo, where you can set yourself a word count and make a commitment to reach that target over the course of the month. I had managed around seven thousand words of a first draft I’d promised myself I would get started on and felt I needed that kick up the backside to make me get on and do it.

I gave myself the target of 20K and given the children break up for the summer during July, felt this was a reasonable ask.

With half an hour here and an hour there, most of this in the evenings and at weekends, the word count crept up, but inevitably once the children were at home all day, things slowed down considerably.

My three children are aged 8, 10 and 13, so they don’t need babysitting all day, but neither do I expect them to amuse themselves whilst I work 9 to 5. The deal is, we all get on and do our own thing in the morning, then we can go out together in the afternoon.

Whilst this works, it shortened my day some more and it’s meant fitting in my usual work in less hours. I thought I wasnt going to get to that 20K target, but do you know what? Somehow I did. The story isn’t finished, but it’s well on its way and that’s thanks to the deadline I set myself.

I’ve discovered the best way for me to get any writing done is to have that deadline to work to. I think otherwise, I would let a piece of work drift along and perhaps never finish anything. My first published book, The Mystery of the Disappearing Underpants became a fully fledged story during a Camp Nano four years ago. I didn’t reach my word count during that month because not only did the kids finish school, my daughter broke her arm and there was nothing to it but to focus on her pain management, hospital visits and operations for the subsequent months.

I obviously came back to that story though and I have that previous deadline to thank for moving the story on from an idea to a fully fledged middle grade story.

This current project is the second in a series of four I’ve had planned for some time. The first is due out next year, but I’m trying to stay one step ahead of myself by getting the next one completed in draft form, so I can work on it in between all the extremely time consuming book marketing and PR (easier said than done).

If I’m honest with myself, I don’t think I would write much more if I had all day to do it with no other commitments in my way. There is only so much writing I can do in a day – it takes a lot out of you – so I will have to stick with my erratic writing times, working as and when.

For anyone who thinks they don’t have time to write I would urge you to think again. Who does? I know of very few people who have the luxury of being a full time writer and even then, I imagine a large chunk of their day involves admin, marketing and PR of some description.

Perhaps sitting by the window looking out onto a beautiful view whilst sipping a cup of coffee and being inspired to tap away on those laptop keys is a romantic notion. I guess that’s what writing retreats were invented for. If only…

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