Cut Out Dead Space and Make Time for Writing

Have you ever had one of those days where you’re just teeming with inspiration? You write pages on pages on pages before coming up for air and realizing that you’ve been at it for hours.

Those days are the best.

Unfortunately, they’re not exactly a “plan”. While those days can make you feel like a productive fiend, they’re unreliable. Who knows when this magical wave of unstoppable inspiration will hit you next?

If you’re reading this blog, it means that you’re a writer who wants to write more.

And if that’s true, you have to plan ahead. It’s just the way it is.

But if you’re not a typical a “planner”, don’t let that scare you! Planning ahead doesn’t need to mean keeping a bullet journal or scheduling out your day in five-minute increments à la Elon Musk.

Make the time

Someone (I have no idea if it was a man or if he was wise) once said “you can determine a man’s priorities by looking at his checkbook and his calendar.”

OK, let’s open this discussion to women as well and ignore the checkbook part. Today, we’re focusing on our schedules. Because if you want to write more, you have to make the time for it.

It’s not enough to talk about. Or to dream longingly about it while watching TV.

You have to be intentional.

We’ve spoken before about designing the space you work in to be creative and productive. Now, it’s time to design your calendar to do the same thing.

Diagnose and repurpose dead space

So, let’s audit your schedule. First, go through the non-negotiable time slots. A day job, time for errands, basic self-hygiene, etc.

Schedule Time for Writing | The Dusty Quill
(I promise this isn’t my real to-do list)

Next, figure out what time is left and how you’ve been using it up to this point. In my case, the time between when I eat dinner and when I go to bed is a big gaping hole…that had been filled with Netflix for a long time.

But when I realized that I was spending hours watching New Girl episodes I had already seen instead of chipping away at my writing goals, I had to ask myself, “Why?

Answer: I was tired and wanted to turn my brain off → Watching TV was a way to unwind. So that was what was really getting in my way—not New Girl (I knew you’d never betray me), but my need to unwind after working all day.

I won’t judge myself for that. I’m no Elon Musk and have no ambition to be. But now that I know my brain needs some time to relax after work, I can use that information to help me reach my goals.

That’s why I’ve reframed how I look at writing. It’s not a chore. It’s therapeutic.

Once I could take writing out of the “work” category and into the “relax” category, I could immediately work it into my routine.

And the best part is that I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing anything to write in the evening. It’s not taking away from time that I’d rather be spending elsewhere. I recognized dead space in my schedule, found a way for writing to seamlessly replace that dead space, and became infinitely more productive.

Be the tortoise, not the hare

By reframing what my creative time is for me (a way to unwind rather than another item on the to-do list), I no longer need to rely on my sudden bursts of inspiration. Being intentional with my time and making room in my routine for writing has allowed me to run a writing marathon instead of a sprint.

As a writer, you should aim to be the tortoise, not the hare. Those days when you’re crazy motivated are the writing hares. They’re fun and make you feel great when you’re in high-speed mode. But when you tire out, you’re left with nothing. No motivation to finish what you started (we all know the story—you lose in the end).

Be the tortoise—slow and steady—and chip away at your writing goals consistently. Just a little bit on a regular basis will get you well on your way to, I don’t know, say, creating a blog, updating it weekly, and starting your own email newsletter (you should really sign up for it below, by the way). 🙂

So, it’s time for you to take things into your own hands and make the time you need to write. Find the dead space in your routine—the time that doesn’t need to be there for your health, sanity, or happiness. And let writing fill that void while you get one step closer to meeting your goals (you know, instead of wasting time between bouts of inspiration)!

Oh, and if you think your schedule is totally void of any dead space, let me know in the comments section below so I can help you find even just 5 minutes for you to work writing into your routine.

For more tips on making time for writing, follow The Dusty Quill on Pinterest! You’ll never want for inspiration or motivation again!

Until next time,

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