Thursday, May 26, 2011

How to Balance Your Writing and Your Day Job – Part 3: Find the Time

Sure, it’s great to have goals. And a plan is a lovely thing. But when do you find the time to work towards your goals and execute your plan? Indeed, you might not even have the time to work on creating your plan in the first place.

I have the same problem and the same underlying tension between the demands of my day job and my writing life. I want to write 24/7 but when push comes to shove, I have to eat, clothe myself and put a roof over my head. Like most people, I not only have to put in the requisite number of hours at my day job, I have to find the energy to complete my work during the day, leaving very little energy (not to mention time) to write and strive towards my goals for my writing self.

Interstitial time

Time doesn’t just come in increments of an hour or more. Don’t give up on writing for the day just because you won’t have an afternoon or a full hour to work on your writing.

Take time where you can find it. Actually, if you think about it, this is what we’re all doing already. We squeeze in a workout between home and work. We spend our break calling the credit card company and our lunch hour picking up a few items from the grocery store. Nowadays, that’s how we get by.

I call these increments interstitial time. It’s the time we find in between the bigger (usually already committed) blocks of time.

The big blocks are Work, Family, Sleep, etc. Every other minute in the day is essentially up for grabs.

Finding the time

I’ve created a list of likely categories of interstitial time which may exist in your life. By cobbling together a few of these short periods, you can find time to write – or at least plan to write, or research, or edit a few pages you’ve already written.

Commute: if you’re on a bus or train for longer than five or ten minutes, you can make use of this time to write.

Work Breaks and Lunch: Let your partner pick up the groceries today. Or instead of waiting on hold with the credit card company, drop them an email. Free up your fifteen and thirty minute breaks in the workday to do something for your writing career. Think about it like your second job; you just do it in between the first one.

Wake Up Early or Go to Sleep Late: Create some time by carving out a small slice of that big block called Sleep. You may not want to do it every day but a half hour on the weekends before the family gets up or at the end of the day after the kids are in bed can give you the time to write a page a day or even more. After a year, you’ve got a decent sized book!

These are just a few of the places where I’ve found interstitial time. If you look hard, you can find some slices of time in your own life. Put them to use.

Photo courtesy of Pixomar at

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