I call them “someday authors.” They’re the folks who are going to write their book “someday,” when they have a lot of free time. Some imagine doing it in retirement. Others plan to use vacation time. Still others are less definitive. They are going to write their book “when things slow down a little.”
My clients aren’t like that. They’re successful, mid-career, midlife people. They have a full plate of family, social, and business obligations. They want to write a book for any number of good reasons and they’re not willing to wait for a someday that never comes.
Many of my clients will tell you that writing a book was the hardest thing they’ve ever done. The hardest part for most of them was carving out the time to do it well. You won’t “find” the time to write your book. You must carve it out of the time you currently use for something else.
How much time do you need to write your book?
You need large blocks of uninterrupted time to write a good book. You need them consistently for the year or more it will take to complete the manuscript.
If you’re like most people, you’ll do your most productive writing in blocks of between one and two hours. 15-minute snatches of time won’t do. You’ll do your best writing when you establish a consistent writing pattern. Some of my clients write every day. Others write every week. There are many schedules but the writers who finish strong are the ones who maintain a consistent pattern.
So where will you find the time? You can’t manufacture it. You must take it from somewhere in your current schedule. No matter what you do, there will be tradeoffs and there are a few things that just don’t work well.
Can you sleep less and use the time to write?
This is commonplace advice about writing a book. You’re told to “Just get up an hour earlier,” or “Go to bed an hour later.” Magically, you will have time to write your book. That sounds like a good idea, but there are consequences.
Most mid-career people, especially those with kids, aren’t getting enough sleep already. That’s likely to be you. The National Sleep Foundation guidelines say adults need at least 7 hours of sleep per night. A Gallup Poll found that 65 percent of us get 7 hours or less. Forty percent get less than 6 hours. How much sleep do you get?
Take time from sleep and you risk sleep deprivation. Several researchers have compared being sleep-deprived with being drunk. You won’t be able to think clearly or write well.
Truth is, if you’re writing a book, you probably need more sleep, not less. Where else can you get time to write?
How about cutting back on family activities?
It’s possible to get some time by skipping a few soccer games and family get-togethers, but you won’t get much that way. You won’t get it consistently, either. And there are consequences.
The people who love you are the people who love you. They know your book is important to you and important to your career. They support you. So, they’ll forgive you when you miss that soccer game or cancel date night. But that won’t go on forever.
Truth is, your loved ones will forgive you right up until the time they don’t. And taking time from relationships also makes the people who love you resent the book.
What about taking time from leisure and recreation?
You can also find time to write by cutting down on activities you love. If you like to go hunting or fishing, you can score some time there. If you like spending time in the garden, you can score some time there. It’s hard to get enough consistent time to write a book that way, but you can get some without too many consequences.
Can you get the time to write by working less?
This is about all that’s left. If you want to find consistent blocks of time, you’re most likely to find it by taking it from the time you spend working. That can be scary.
If you work for yourself, getting writing time from work means cutting down on work. That means cutting down on your income. This is scary, but it’s where most of my clients get their time to write.
One client got writing time from the time he used to spend improving his business. His logic was that writing the book was improving the business. Another client put large writing blocks in her schedule six months into the future.
There’s a bonus from doing it this way. When you get done with the book project, you suddenly have free time where you used to have writing time. You can use it for client work or time with your family or time mastering that hobby you’ve been thinking about.
You need large blocks of time consistently to write your book.
You need more sleep, not less.
Don’t cut back on sleep and use the time to write.
The people who love and support you need time, too.
You may be able to cut back on work.
You won’t “find” the time to write your book. You must carve it out of the time you currently use for something else.