How to Find Time to Write a Novel: 8 Tried and Tested Tips

by | Coaching, Fiction, habits, non-fiction, Writing

Hello, Writers!


So, you have a great idea for a novel, but you’re struggling to find time to write. You have Work, children, family things, and social commitments all vying for your attention, but you still haven’t found the time to write that novel. Months have rolled by, and you haven’t started working on your story idea. Have you ever wondered how other writers and authors find time to write?


If you’re thinking, “This is me,” then this blog post is for you. In this blog post, I’ll share with you eight tried and tested tips on how to find the time to write your novel.


So, let’s get started.


Tip #1: Change your focus

When most writers think about writing a book the first things that come to mind are word count and the first draft. There’s more to writing than just hitting a word count. Before you get to the stage of putting words on a page, you need to develop a story idea, outline your novel, create characters, build your story’s world, and research. All of this needs to be done before writing. And, for lovers of outlining this is the most creative part of the writing process.


So, what should you be focusing on instead? If you’re struggling to find time to write you need to change the question you ask yourself. Most writers ask themselves questions about word counts in order to measure the value of a recent writing session. It’s important to focus on the value of something especially when it comes to writing. At the end of each day ask yourself the following question:


Have you contributed to your current work in progress in a meaningful way?


When you focus the value of your overall daily contribution, you start to realise that you do in fact write every day. This question also highlights those moments when you’ve used research as a means of procrastination. Becoming aware of the way you procrastinate will help you to make better choices with spending your writing time.


Tip #2: Use the time you have wisely

How are you using your time? Whenever I’ve asked a coaching client this question, the response I get is often silence or a general list of tasks they completed that day. Before you find time to write your novel you need to know how you spend your time.


Take a notebook around with you every day for a week and take a note of how you spend your time. This does sound a little tedious and time-consuming. But, it’s a necessary evil. Most people, myself included are creatures of habit. We do the same things over and over again. The good news is, you only have to look at a week and not a month.


Pay attention to those idle hours where you’re doing nothing. These moments are referred to as downtime. Examples of these are, the daily commute, waiting for your children to finish school (soccer, tennis, dance classes), watching TV, reading tabloids, or mindless web searching. In these moments we could be doing other things like writing, especially when you’re waiting. You might decide to work on your novel on your morning commute or while you wait for your children.


I’m not saying to stop doing everything you love. But, be prepared to make a small sacrifice or notice the opportunities you have and use them to work on your novel. Suddenly “how do I find the time to write” becomes “how can I manage my time productively.”


Tip #3: Plan ahead

What do you want to achieve within a week? Write out your goal. Is it realistic? If not, change it. Once you have a realistic writing goal, break it down into daily bite-sized chunks. Finding time to write a novel is a time management issue. It’s no mistake that the most successful entrepreneurs plan out their working day or week in advance. This same principle can be applied to your writing.


I’ve lost count of all those moments where I’ve spent figuring out what to do next. This problem is what made me finally turn to using a productivity app like ToDoist. I went from chasing the demands of my inbox and focusing too much on business, to finishing two novels. So, choose how you’re going to spend your writing time in advance. The simple act of choosing now makes it easier for you to work on your novel every day.


Tip #4: Create a habit

I don’t necessarily mean writing every day at a certain time and place. Creating a habit like this can often be a hindrance. The last thing you need is to be sitting at a certain table with a cup of tea with a certain level of noise. Instead of creating a tight ritual make it your habit to use the downtime you have to work on your novel, even if it’s only fifteen or twenty minutes. It’s better to write for twenty minutes every day then to go days or weeks without writing a single word.


Tip #5: Don’t let your writing habit go

More than two days between writing session or any habit can make it harder to start up again. This is why someone who goes to the gym every day for three months can suddenly stop attending. So, the longer you leave it between writing sessions, the harder it will be to start writing again. If you only have a spare 30 minutes in a day, spend 15 minutes writing and 15 minutes taking time out for yourself. The idea is to constantly chip away at your current work in progress until it’s complete.


Tip #6: Write in 20-minute bursts

One of the reasons why most writers with great ideas don’t start writing is because they believe they need to spend hours writing every day. And, because their lives are full of other things they believe that writing isn’t possible for them. As a result, their author dreams are put off until someday. Like you, I’ve struggled to hit word counts and find time to write. In my quest to find time to write and to write at a greater speed, I came across Chris Fox and his love of writing sprints. Within a typical writing session, Chris Fox will write in multiples of twenty-minute writing sprints.


This got me thinking.


This idea is certainly not revolutionary but, it’s worth repeating. If you only have 20 minutes, you set writing goals, and you know what you need to write. Then a twenty-minute writing session could be quite productive. And that’s what matters most. It’s how you spend the time you have, and not the amount of time you have to write.


Over time, these short writing sessions add up.


Tip #7: Go on a social media detox

Social media is one of the biggest time sucks. One second you’re scrolling through Facebook, the next you look up at the clock and two hours have flown by without you noticing. I often wish I could go back in time and slap myself for all of those wasted hours scrolling through Facebook or Instagram.


I wish I spent this time writing.


So, like me, if you want to detoxify yourself from your favourite social media network start off by making a note of how much time you are spending on these platforms. Set yourself a time limit by using a stopwatch and immediately leave the second the timer goes off. Or, consider using time on social media as a reward for completing your daily writing habit. Think: ‘if I work on my story today for 20 or 30 minutes I can spend ten minutes on Instagram.’


The real secret is self-awareness. To simply know your limits. Can you trust yourself to spend a short amount of time on the network? If not, go cold-turkey.


Tip #8: Be Kind to Yourself

You’re not going to get it right all of the time. If you’re anything like me, then you’re probably a tad over ambitious. In light of this, I have an important question to ask you. Are you expecting too much too soon? I recently attempted to action all of these things leading up to my wedding:


  • Plan an international wedding
  • Launch and create content for my youtube channel
  • Create weekly content for my author blog
  • Launch a new podcast
  • Revise two books
  • Create an email list freebie
  • Write a novella
  • Write a short story


I know this is an extreme example but, this is what I have going on right now. I soon realised accomplishing all of these things was not going to be possible before my wedding. So, I had to decide to postpone a few projects. I decided to put off the podcast launch and scale back on my youtube channel to two videos a week. And, slowly work towards achieving the other things on this list. This means, I need to focus on revising Immunity first, then Silence. After these revisions are complete, write the short story and novella.


Write down all of the things you want to achieve in the next three months. Is it possible for you to achieve all of these things within the allocated time frame? Consider changing the time frame or launch date for a project or goal, so it’s achievable.


Concluding thoughts

So, how do you find time to write your novel? There isn’t a quick fix or magic bullet when it comes to achieving the things you want in life. This is especially true of writing, but here is a quick overview of the things you can do to find time to write your novel:


  • Change your focus
  • Use the time you have wisely
  • Plan ahead
  • Create a habit
  • Don’t let the habit go
  • Write in short bursts
  • Get off social media
  • Be kind to yourself


As always, I have to ask; are you struggling to find time to write your novel? Which tips do you plan on putting into practice to help you make the time to write? I want to hear from you. Let me know by sharing your thoughts in the comments section below.


With love,

Amelia xx

Amelia D. Hay

Written by Amelia D. Hay

I’m Amelia. When I’m not hosting the Authorpreneur Podcast™️ and the Book Nerd Podcasts, I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Suspicion, the Lawn, and the Candidate.

On this blog, I help new writers to finish their first draft, prepare their manuscripts for professional editing, and when they get stuck in the first draft phase or are confused about the revision process.

Right now, I’m editing and preparing my soon to be published mystery novels, Suspicion, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.

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