Writing Tips: Carving Out Time to Write


I tend to wake up very early, and most of the time I try to get some writing done before my “day job” (as a book editor) begins. One recent Saturday morning, I had been writing for a few hours when the door to my home office opened and my daughter walked in … at 7:09, long before she even wakes up on school mornings. Here’s how that conversation went:

“Wow, you’re up early! You don’t have school today, you know.”

“I know. I wasn’t sleepy.”

(Longing glance at computer) “Do you want some breakfast?”

“I’m not hungry yet.”

“Okay . . . Could you play for a while, so I can get this page finished?”

(Frowning) “How long will it take?”

“Oh . . . not long. Maybe fifteen minutes.”

“Okay.” She leaves, and I hear her getting out some toys in the living room. Great; maybe I can just finish this scene …

I picked my way through the slushy sidewalks, past Canal Jeans …

“Can I have a sheet?” My daughter is back.

“Sure. Wait, what’s it for?”

“I want to build a fort.”

“Okay. You can get one out of the closet.”

If I can just finish this page …

I picked my way through the slushy sidewalks, past Canal Jeans, Zoot, and other vintage shops, and continued down lower Broadway. The smell of burnt chestnuts from the street vendor—

“Can I have another sheet?” My daughter is back.

Glancing her way, I say, “Okay. You’re making a fort?”

“Yes. In the living room.”

“All right. Try not to make too big of a mess.” Hmm, where was I?

The smell of burnt chestnuts from the street vendor hung heavy in the bitterly cold air. I shifted the shoulder strap on my backpack, stuffed to the gills with manuscripts, and tried to beat the traffic light …

Twenty minutes later, something tells me the living room has gone too quiet. I go down the hall, and what I see is in the photo above. My child has gotten all the sheets out of the closet and, using rubber bands and hair clips, has created an installation that takes up most of the living room. Which she doesn’t let me take down for a week.

All this is to say, it’s difficult to carve out time for writing. Real life intrudes, in the form of day jobs, children, partners and spouses, and pets. But try to set aside a dedicated time for writing every day, whether it’s a 4 am, on your lunch break, or right before you go to bed. It may be hard to do, but in the end, it will be worth it.

I hope these tips are helpful! Have a question about writing? Comment or email me at leslie@lesliewellsbooks.com

Leslie Wells has edited forty-nine New York Times bestsellers in her thirty-year publishing career. She is the author of Come Dancing, a novel about publishing and rock and roll, set in New York City in the 1980s. Visit her at www.lesliewellsbooks.com

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