Before you start writing, I need to back up a little bit.
A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you the “ultimate tool to make time to write.”
Because it's probably the Number 1 question I get asked by women who want to write: "How do I make time to write?"
But it’s not really the question to be asking.
What you may not realize, and what nobody really talks about, is how crucial NOT writing can be to actually writing.
Now, this is not another excuse to procrastinate. I promise, I’ll get you to writing. Just as soon as I tell you this very important but overlooked part.
Before we can really talk about HOW to make time to write, we really need to ask ourselves WHEN?
At this point, that question might be obvious. I’m sure some of you, especially if you read my previous post, have already started to wonder: Yeah, but what is the best time for me to sit down and write?
Because, again, we want to make sure when you do make time to write, you get the most out of it.
So let’s look at two things:
Let’s start with your natural rhythms, because I believe it’s the most important.
For me, I have always been a night owl. Before having a kid, the idea of going to bed by 10 was unthinkable—no matter how early I had to get up. I have never been good at waking up early, and I can’t even count the nights I would stay up either writing or tossing in bed trying to sleep because my mind was racing. (Ever have those nights?)
Studies have shown staying up late is also linked to creativity and introversion (sounds like two characteristics of being a writer, doesn’t it?).
Now, I’m not telling you this to say that only eccentric late-nighters are writers. I’m telling you this to help you understand how important your natural rhythms are, and how they can affect your writing.
So one of the first things I did when I started freelancing and creating my own schedule was to start tracking when I was naturally “creative,” inspired, and productive. What I noticed was aligned with what the studies have shown.
In general, most if not all people are most productive and creative in the mornings.
However, those times differ in two ways:
So not only to night owls start their days later, their productive time starts later after waking.
One of the most important things you can do is to start to understand your own rhythms and how it affects your creativity and production.
So you have to ask yourself: When am I most creative/productive?
So when do you write?
This is important because one of the most popular—and worst—pieces of advice out there is:
Wake up earlier before everyone else does to write.
Again, if you’re naturally a night owl, this just might not be possible. And, even if you did wake up earlier, it might not be your most productive time, so you’re really just losing sleep AND wasting time.
The problem is that we live in a culture where you’re expected to be and rewarded for being an early riser.
This brings us to our next question: "Where can I fit writing in my weekly schedule?"
So after you’ve answered the question of, "When am I most naturally creative?," you have 2 things to do:
For many of us, we’ll probably be writing on the weekends, unless you happen to have a "free" day in your week. This is also family time for most of us. But since you’re only taking out 30 minutes to an hour, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it—because it might mean being more focused and present when you are writing, as well as when you are playing with your kid in the park.
If you decide to write in the evenings, be very aware of your energy levels. If you’re a morning person, nights just may not do it for you. And even if you’re a late-nighter, focus eventually goes down. And if you’re anything like me, those hours are still consumed with family time.
Even though I’d love to stay up writing, and my productive hours go on until almost midnight (sometimes later), I’m simply exhausted at the end of the day. Between the kid and work, I’m done. And even though my creative drive can sometimes keep me going (and sleep deprivation to some extent has been shown to boost creativity), it’s not sustainable. So I make sure I don’t do it for too many days at a time.
Now that you have these tools, the best action to take is to start.
Whatever you choose to do, try it. Test it out. It’s not set in stone. The most important thing about a writing practice, or any practice—or life for that matter—is that it’s a practice, and as you grow, it grows.
Then make adjustments.
Let me know if this helps! Comment below or email me with what you struggle with most when you do sit down to write.