Posted by: Diane Curran | October 25, 2009

Your time starts now…

No one can say that they don’t have time to write, when you look at someone like Cylithria Dubois, Marine Corps novelist, who participates each year in Nanowimo.  Read her Q&A here.

We are all allocated the same 24 hours in every day (yes, I wish it was more) and we choose how we spend that time.(Housework is very low on list of my priorities – that’s what my partner is for!)

Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali

I have a day job – which involves me staring at a screen for 8 hours a day. The computer work is a lot more intensive now than when I worked in the call centre. When you have a customer on the phone, you don’t need to be looking at the screen all of the time – a lot of the information goes straight from your brain and out your mouth, and you don’t need to look anything up. But now I’m comparing information on records and that takes a lot of looking and examining. And there are days where my brain is fog, and my eyes are so tired by knock-off time.

I’m trying to set a balance between my day job and my night job. Trying to cut down on how much I stare at a screen in the evenings, working on  paper editing to give my eyes a break and utilising tools such as Write or Die (desktop edition yay!) so that I  maximise my writing time.

Here are my tips for making writing time:

  • do something on your ‘work in progress’ every day – write, edit, write a synopsis, outline, jot down notes, write a scene from a different POV. Anything that keeps your head in the story. This way your subconscious is always working on it.  It might be only fifteen minutes a day, 100 words, one scene but it keeps your muse amused.
  • Use those 15 minutes of time.  Stuck waiting? Get out a notebook and write. Write at lunch, write at morning tea, write in the doctor’s surgery. Snatch that time back for you – otherwise waiting time can build into resentment time (no matter what or who you are waiting for).
  • be accountable.  Find a writing buddy. Set a word count goal or a time goal. And then do it. Have ‘writing dates’. Report back at the end of the date.
  • Find competitions that will give you deadlines. Work towards them. Get used to the concept of ‘deadlines’ because when you’re published, it’s all one big deadline.  And if you’re better than me, set your own deadlines. I find setting my own deadlines a little too hypothetical to be real. External deadlines work better for me.
  • Learn to say ‘no’.  Stuff happens without your involvement.  Let it happen. You don’t have to say yes to everything.  Make your writing a priority in your life.  Ask yourself what you want more. To write or to do whatever else they want you to do.
  • If you need some negative reinforcement, Write or Die is great!  You set your word goal and your time goal and you start writing. If you stop, it will flash red at you, then start playing awful sounds at you. If you’re feeling really game, you can choose Kamikaze mode, and after a few seconds of no typing, your words will start to disappear. I love Write or Die – my last completed ms was almost entirely written using Write or Die. And now that there is a desktop edition for the bargain price of $10 US, you can write without being distracted by the internet.  Though the temptation to not write, and freak out everyone else in the lunchroom at work with the strange sounds will be great!

So what are you waiting for?

If you want to write, your time starts now.



  1. Arrgh I hear you Diane- I also work all day mostly staring at a computer screen- I also agree that “keeping your muse amused” (nice!) is the best way to get through the day. Any way you can.Checking out “Write or Die” (as soon as I finish my chapter!)

  2. Great tips, Diane–thanks!

    My eyes do get a workout, now that you mention it! I have two monitors on my desk at the day job. For the writing job, I’m learning to use a notebook again (like, real paper!) to help me avoid the traps of the internet.

  3. Great ideas!! I so need to start using some of them. I’m terrible at prioritising writing and giving it the importance I feel it deserves.

  4. Wonderful advise Diane. I currently live in New Orleans but have access the means & opportunity to decamp to Oz (Sydey) for a year or toWould you recommend the move to a smaller publishing pond.

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