Writing a Book – Finding Time

Trust Agents Book Cover You want to write a book, and have been wondering about the process. Maybe you’ve started a bunch of times, but something got in the way. Motivation failed you, or you lost track of the time, or you wrote the entire thing but never got it out there in any form or fashion. There are lots of roadblocks and dead ends in the world of writing books.

Finding Time to Write a Book

Most people, when I queried them, said that finding time was the #1 complain/worry/issue they had with being able to write a book. As I’m about to complete my fourth, and my fifth will be finished a few months after that, I can tell you that it most certainly does take time, but that time can be found. Here are a few ways to “find” time.

  • Write notes about your book into something like Evernote, which can be accessed from your phone, your desktop, and any web browser (meaning you have no excuses to take down ideas).
  • Keep 3×5 index cards in your pocket or bag, and jot notes there, too. A lot of writing is done before you sit down to actually write.
  • Build loose-but-useful outlines and seek out 20 minutes here and there to “shade them in.” People facing a blank page waste too much time thinking about the page. Instead, work on bits that need work.
  • If you work better speaking, look into a product like Dragon Naturally Speaking to do dictation for you.
  • Prone to distractions? Try Ommwriter for Mac (or PC).
  • Also, shutting off the Internet helps.

But I Have Kids

So do I. I have two kids. And I run a few companies, and help several others. You can create excuses to fit your issues with finding time, or you can find time. Here’s some ways to do it.

  • While they watch TV, you write at the table. If you have time for TV, you have time to write a book. Can’t concentrate? Headphones.
  • Wake up 40 minutes earlier. Use 20 to get less groggy. Use 20 to start some writing.
  • Stay up 40 minutes later. Use 30 to write and 10 to calm your brain back down.
  • Use “idle time” like waiting room time to write. Don’t want to whip out the laptop? Then use something else to capture more work (remember that note cards aren’t a book).
  • Quit one “used to be useful” activity. We all have them. Are you still at book club? Unless it’s your life saver, stop. Ditto volunteering. Volunteer to write a book. Then volunteer.

Time DOES Grow On Trees

Gandhi famously said that we all have the same 24 hours in the day. We just choose how we fill them. I find time all the time. One way I do it is to ignore email for a while. We are a world trained to answer little red 1′s. Shut off the auto-popups that tell you when mail comes. Kill the audible for it. Do everything you can to limit the INTERRUPTIONS of time to just a single channel, like SMS, so that if someone really needs you, they know they can text you. And if they bug you too much then, consider switching to Google Voice and set up rules for each phone number that bugs you. Problem solved.

How you respect your own time and how you show others the value of your own time is the key here. You can’t shut out the world, but very very few authors get that luxury anyway. Every book I’ve written, I’ve written while running more than one company, while managing a busy speaking schedule, while blogging daily (sometimes more than once a day), while being a dad, and while facing all the other complicated interruptions that life throws your way.

Own this. You can do it.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about discipline. Yes, it’s a series. There are four more posts coming. : )

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  • Waldo Rochow

    This is a great article (the start of a series), but the advice isn’t just limited to authoring a book. Have you ever wanted to start something new, but just can’t seem to start? … You’re welcome!

  • http://live-your-love.com/ Brankica | How to blog

    Love this part about how we all have 24 hrs in a day. I am terrible at organizing time and when I see how much I actually do with the little time I do organize I wonder what would I do with all the wasted time. Being ADHD doesn’t help but I recently started learning how to organize better and already saw bit of improvement. A lot more to do but posts like these stimulate me to try harder. 

    You have 2 kids and do all this? Guess I can’t use a puppy as an excuse any more :(

  • http://wildhairmedia.com Mikey Ames

    This is really inspiring. Thanks!

  • http://faithoncampus.com Guy Chmieleski

    I needed this. Thanks Chris!

  • http://faithoncampus.com Guy Chmieleski

    I needed this. Thanks Chris!

  • http://www.idoinspire.com Jody Urquhart

    Great tips. Someone recommended taking a week or two alone in an inspiring quiet location to write a book.
    I did this …it took a few efforts for me but it is how I would do it again. No interruptions, no phone, nothing

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual Business Assistant

    Thanks for these great tips. I will surely implement these and try out my level best..

  • http://www.freelancewriter.co/ Harleena Singh

    That sure is a motivational post Chris! 

    Yes, we do tend to make 10001 excuses, though we all know at the back of our minds that if there is a will there is a way! And we ourselves have to find that way- no matter what!

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  • Anonymous

    I pretty much have the time thing figured out. It’s a matter of what should go into the book that is the issue. That’s what the new site is basically about, and having a hard time of it. Hopefully, that will be the next post in the series ;)

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  • http://twitter.com/anandaleeke anandaleeke

    Love this series.

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  • http://www.energyforyourlife.com/energy/audios/instant/ Julia Hidy

    Your writing tips are great, Chris.  And great comments from everyone on this post.  I’d add using two Moleskins or Journals – one to capture book ideas, and a second for marketing, PR, networking, and parallel multimedia, video, audio and photo/image ideas.  The book ideas go into MS Word; marketing and multimedia into Excel that I can copy or adapt for future titles.  I start my books in long hand on a beach.  Rolling waves help draw the practical philosophy body-mind-spirit content so my book’s outline is quite developed when it does hit the page a few hours or days later.  SPF 30-smudged pages add to the vibe. 

    My first book took 12 years to write as I tested the material and retested it again.  As the first title evolved, I realized there were 8 other books I’d want to write that made sense in context with the first one. I consoled myself that Stephen Covey took 10 years to write and test his 7 Habits’ book.  My latest book was outlined in Jan. and 1/3 written by April.  I took a 3-month break, and it’ll go to my editor later this month. The break allows me to see my material with ‘fresh eyes’ and refine, redirect and tighten it faster than by pounding away at it.  I can usually see the ‘holes’ in premise, refine statements made or pull out whole sections for new books or case studies.  That’s also when I re-order content so introducing abstract concepts will make much more sense to readers.  These days, I simply try to be consistent at creating content. 

    It’s good to ask:  How ‘on track’ am I?  Is the outline I started with where I need to keep taking the content?  How does the color and rhythm of words used fit relative to the meaning and context I want to convey.  Have I kept readers’ attention.  Yes, some readers’ attention is down to 3 seconds.  But a reader feels that what you write solves their problem(s) and they like what they’re reading, they’ll not only keep reading.  They’ll beat down your door to get the next chapter. 

    Good luck to everyone who wants to share the book that’s inside them with the world.  I’m looking forward to the rest of your posts in this series, Chris, and to your next book too.   :)  J

  • http://flamesonfifthavenue.com Eric Wittke

    I’m finding your advice on time management to be incredibly useful, especially as projects pile up continuously. It’s inspiring to see how much you’ve written (I finished Trust Agents yesterday) despite being so busy in other areas. Like some previous commenters have noted, these are tips that can help in all aspects of life that require time management.

    I’ve got big writing goals for the future, and this will certainly help me achieve them. Thank you!

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  • http://www.YourMuseIsCalling.com Sue Mitchell

    I love that you acknowledge that half the time you gain by getting up earlier will be spent getting less groggy! Lowering expectations like that can make all the difference between successfully creating a new habit and giving up.

  • DaveLucas

    Thanks for sharing these techniques. I’ve been writing a book forever… now maybe I can move ahead a few steps!

  • Connie Michener

    Thx for sharing … I bought myself a mss rack … th’ beginning of WHAT year? … And filled it up with files of partial mss right away … I kept archived notes in doc files with the dates on them — tho sometimes I write into the same one for a week or so … and now I’m in an editing/assembling phase, “search contents of documents” is my friend. Yes, time does grow on trees! Sometimes when I read my notes to re-start something, I’m very surprised at how far my past self had gotten!

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  • dorikam-4012-angel-4111

    I have written a dozen novels on coffee breaks (although I don’t drink coffee), Ten are published or set for publication. I average about 500 words of fiction a day.

  • Anonymous

    I guess it’s not really that much different to starting your own business or writing a blog. We are all busy people but if you really want something you will find the time. Cut out a bit of TV or don’t go out to as many pubs. Simple as that!

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  • http://www.lookuppage.com/users/stephenscott/ Janet Ann

    Indeed, everyone has writing style of their own. It simply amazes me the way others get a few minutes of their busy schedule to write while the some needs to keep themselves away from the rest of the world. Away from all the distraction. I guess the bottom line on this is that to simply find the best time to write.

    Now, all I need to do is to discipline myself and start letting go of some of my favorite useful activities online. T_T

  • Elizabeth

    I love practical, solid reminders like this.  Thanks!!

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  • Digestive enzymes

    This is nice article it helps me to fulfill my hobby of writing and proper time management. Through your suggestions I can enjoy writing  and able to make the Use of my Idle time.
    These techniques are really motivational to inspire the people to write something.

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  • Royalmark

    Great tips for me. :-)

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  • http://www.keystrokecapture.ws/ keylogger

    Great article ,you are’ the best thanks for informative

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