Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Finding Time to Write - Don't Despise the Bits & Pieces of Time You Have Available

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Finding Time to Write
I had always believed that I needed at least an hour, and preferably three, to make any progress at all with my writing.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The truth is, those small bits and pieces of time we all have add up to a lot. And wasting them can severely hamper our ability to meet deadlines and find success. 

Over the years, I’ve learned how to use the time I have, even if it’s just ten minutes. Today I want to share the specific things I do to help increase my productivity when long stretches of writing time just aren't possible.

Tips for Finding Time to Write
1. Decide to use what you’ve got. This is the biggest part of the puzzle. If you wait for perfect circumstances, chances are you’ll never finish your book. Truthfully, things rarely line up. When they do—celebrate! When they don’t—just decide to work harder.

Have a road map of where your book and/or project is going.
2. Do your pre-work. There are a couple of things I recommend you do before you start writing in those short bits of time. AND they can also be done in bits and pieces.
  • Have a road map of where your book is going. I’ve learned that I work better from a scene map (a list of all the scenes I want to include in my book). You may not have something that detailed. But you should know what you want to write about next. After you finish a scene, before you get up, make a couple of notes about where you want to go from there.
  • Have a foundation of research to build on. I take a few weeks, before I start writing, to do my research and compile my notes.
3. Don’t overthink what you’re writing. Sometimes you’ve got to write junk before you can get to the good stuff. Beyond that, the only thing you can’t fix is an empty page. So put some words on the page and keep moving forward.

4. When you’re writing your first draft, don’t stop to research. When I only have fifteen minutes, I could waste all of it, looking up a fact I need to know. When I come to something I need, I make a note and keep writing. I can look it up after my first draft is done and I begin editing.

5. If you’re working on revisions, make a list . . . actually, make several. Make a list of things you need to look up. Also make a list of scenes you need to add. By making these lists you have a roadmap for your revisions and you don’t have to waste time figuring out what to do next.

Learning work in bits and pieces of time takes practice.
These are all great tips if you’re writing a book, but what if it’s an article or something small that you’re working on? Take the principles I’ve outlined and structure your writing time, no matter what you’re working on.

Most of all, learning to work in the bits and pieces of time that life sometimes throws us takes practice. When I first started, I spent a lot of time frustrated because what I was writing didn’t measure up. But within just a couple of weeks, my frustration lessoned and productivity increased—exponentially.

Don’t assume you can’t work this way. I did, and I lost years of productivity. Instead, take a chance and learn how to keep moving forward.

Now I’d love to find out what tips do you have to work in less than ideal circumstances.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!




  1. I set new goals for my writing and this is timely advice. I'd love perfect circumstances, but I live in a house with four other people.

    1. Jennifer, I'm so glad this came at a good time! Blessings, E

  2. Edie, I want to be like you, efficient, organized, super-productive! Thanks for giving me some tips to make that happen.

    1. I have a bad (really bad) habit of putting my writing off. But deadlines are motivating. Just yesterday I tweaked an old piece and submitted it for the Loving Moments book Yvonne Lehman is compiling. Less than two hours later, she accepted it! All because I finally sent it in. For me, it's not a matter of finding time to write, but TAKING the time to write.

    2. Marilyn, we all want that - and I only wish that were me! LOL! Blessings, E

    3. Ellen, that's a really good insight. Thanks for sharing! Blessings, E

  3. Great strategies for finding or reclaiming time, Edie. Another good resource is The Other 8 Hours by Ribert Pagliarini.

    1. Patti, this is an excellent resource! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Blessings, E

  4. I needed this. With work, church, pastor wife, and family responsibilities you've shown me that I can use my small bits of time to be more productive. Thanks Edie!

  5. I work almost exclusively this way (it helps that the stuff I write is short for the most part). ALWAYS have it with you wherever you go (what you are working on) is my biggest one. You never know when you will have a minute or ten.