On Making Time via Joanne Harris

From time to time (get it!?) I like to pull Joanne Harris’ ten tweets about something together and put them in one place. Makes them easier to reference and these ten are ones I want to look back on and you should too. I recently joined a women’s writing course and the number one obstacle to our writing was almost universally “time.” So here’s how she suggests you make time for writing. Italics after are my comments and other info. 

1. We all have 24 hours a day. The trick is trying to separate what you MUST do from what you LIKE to do. Also from what you CAN do because if you’re not realistic, you’ll set yourself up for failure. 

2. If you feel you don’t have time to write, it could be that, deep down, you don’t really *want* to. Sometimes I think this is the only true writers block – there are times when we just don’t wanna. And that’s ok. 

3. If you write for 15 minutes a day, by the end of the week you’ll have had an hour and three-quarters writing time. She later added that it doesn’t have to be 15 minutes each day. Five minutes on a Monday. A half hour another day. Two hours on a Saturday. It adds up!

4. Don’t expect to “find” uninterrupted hours of time every day. You’ll need to use the time available. This was the second most popular tweet of the ten. You also need to cultivate recognising those moments. When you start to open social media – could you stop and write instead? 

5. Accept the fact that you’ll probably have to sacrifice some of the things you enjoy doing. This was the most popular of the ten. And it’s a hard truth for some. I love films and there’s constantly someone telling me about a new amazing TV show. I have to say no to a lot of things I would probably really enjoy. 

6. If you can’t face making sacrifices, maybe you don’t want to write quite as much as you think you do. Similarly, if you can’t face an editor, maybe you don’t really want to be published. Both are fine. You and the world will be keep spinning. 

7. Get up an hour earlier. Give up watching a TV soap. Give up social media. The third most popular. It relates to what I have said above and what every published author I know has said – somethings gotta give. 

8. Not all of a writer’s work happens at their desk. Thinking time is equally important, and can be done anywhere. I wish I had as many good ideas at my desk as I do whilst driving. 

9. Do you commute? Thinking time. Do you work out? Thinking time. See number 8.

10. Put aside a short time every day. Start with fifteen minutes. After a while, it will become an essential routine. Dude, if you’ve never written much in one sitting or you don’t even have a story in mind yet – start with five minutes. One day you’ll find yourself going over and eventually you’ll find yourself becoming the grumpy bastard that is an interrupted writer on a roll. 


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