Finding Time to Write, Part 2

Last week I discussed some options for finding time to write and I set out to track my time. In the past I had only tracked time at work, not during my full day, but this was only slightly different.

As I went through the week two quotes from last week stuck in my craw.

The first was Victoria Lynn Schmidt Ph.D’s quote from the article on Writer’s Digest:

“In 90 percent of cases, free moments for writing can be found.”

The other was Linda Lafferty’s response when another writer said she couldn’t find time to write:

“Lose the princess ‘tude and get back to work.”

But what if you actually don’t have the time?

That’s what I ran into this week. Apparently I am among the 10%* of people that can’t find the free time for meaningful writing.

I don’t know about Miss Lafferty, who definitely had a full schedule, but I don’t have time wasters in the day that occur at a time where I can stop and achieve meaningful writing results. It’s not a princess attitude, it’s just a fact.

In my spreadsheet I filled out everything that’s set in stone: Work hours, average commute time, the kids’ bed time, etc.

I discovered that every 15 minute block of my day, Monday-Friday is full of things outside my control. My time is not wasted there, and I can’t cut my sleep back any further unless I want to spend my “writing time” as a drooling cactus.

My weekends have potential, but the last few weeks have been packed solid with all of the things that had to be put off through the week and when the non-optional social and familial obligations get shunted to. I might be able to wedge in some uninterrupted writing time on the weekends, but it’ll take some work and it is likely to be unreliable. Last weekend I spent 14 hours sewing a Christmas play costume for my son, for example. It took much longer than anticipated (and I had actually half finished the first tunic the previous Sunday). I’ll need to track my time for a few weekends and see what I can do.

Anyway… Now what? I don’t have time to write, so obviously I can’t be a writer, right? That’s unacceptable. There must be something else I can do.

Luckily I found a blog by Joanna Penn at The Creative Pen that had a bit of advice I hadn’t stumbled on recently: Get a voice recorder and write verbally during the commute.

My husband had made a similar suggestion years ago, back when I had a 10 minute commute and lots of down time at work. I didn’t need it then, though. Now I have a 2-3 hour commute and, with dictation, that is a lot of potential writing time to leverage.

But I write better than I talk, I whined. I also type faster than I talk. If I had time to type out stuff I spoke, then I’d have time to write it!

But I also have 2 to 3 hours of commute time every day that I spend listening to audio books. There are a number of portable devices that can be used for audio recording, apps for speech-to-text transcriptions, and software for dictation and speech-to-text transcription.

This isn’t new. Authors have been dictating for quite some time. Joanna Penn has several podcasts about dictating your writing. One is with author Kevin J. Anderson, who does all of his writing primarily through dictation now. Another blogger (I don’t know who anymore because I read so much) mentioned that it would take time to train the Brain to Mouth connection and she suggested starting the dictation journey by brainstorming and then moving up to dictating actual story.

While this isn’t new, I haven’t found a lot of tips, tricks, and suggestions about how authors actually implemented dictation as part of their writing process, what gear they use or suggest, and what struggles to expect. I certainly haven’t found much about writing while dictating in the car, either.

This might be the only way, for now, that some of us can make time for writing. It is for me. So I’m going to try and document the journey as best I can so that the other 10%* can avoid my mistakes and maybe find a way to make that time that they need to write when all other methods failed.


Note: I frequently say “meaningful writing time,” or some variation, and what I mean is that it takes me more than a few minutes to “get in the groove” of writing. I can spend 15 minutes brain storming, but 15 minutes of actual writing? Can you imagine being in the middle of writing an awesome action scene or the climax and then suddenly having to stop and spend 4 hours doing something unrelated before you can go back to it? 

*I’m not sure if the percentages are accurate as Dr. Schmidt didn’t actually provide a peer-reviewed research paper on the phenomenon. 😛


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