“An incurable itch for scribbling takes possession of many,
and grows inveterate in their insane breasts.”
— Juvenal (circa 100AD)
I have some bad news for you. If you want to write, no one is going to hand you a box of time. You’re going to have to make that time for yourself.
Here’s how …
Look at the numbers
Let’s break it down:
There are 168 hours in a week. You spend a third of them asleep (56 hours), which leaves 112 hours. If you’re working full-time, subtract 55 hours. (eight hours for work, plus one hour for lunch, plus one hour commuting to and one hour for commuting from work each day, five days a week)
That leaves 57 hours.
You’ve got to eat, of course. We’ve already accounted for five weekday lunches, so let’s add two more for weekends, plus seven days of lunches and breakfasts. Allow one hour for each. That’s another 16 hours.
(What, you only spend ten minutes on breakfast? Well, maybe you spend two hours preparing and eating dinner. Or maybe you get takeaways. These figures are only rough, I’m being general — and generous — here.)
So, 57 hours minus 16 for additional food prep and meals leaves 41 hours free for someone in full-time employment.
But you also need to do shopping, chores, relax, unwind, chill out and socialise. Let’s allow another three whole hours a day for that: 21 hours a week …
That still leaves 20 hours a week – free!
Yep, you’re right. You have absolutely no time to write.
The fact is, the average Westerner spends 25-30 hours a week watching TV, plus another 10-15 on the internet.
(Interesting but irrelevant fact: a typical TV ‘hour’ is really only 43 minutes. The rest is advertising. So the average person spends 7-8 hours watching ads each week.)
1: Keep a timesheet of how you spend your free time. Do it for a week. It doesn’t need to be down to the minute, just to the nearest quarter hour. Round up and down where necessary. But be honest. At the end of the week, total it up and see where your time goes. Most people are surprised/horrified.
2: Carve out a regular slot each day for writing. Aim for an hour and try to write 250 words in that time. (How much is 250 words? If you’ve got this far, you’ve just read about 350 words.)
250 words may sound a lot, but it’s only a whisker over four words a minute. That’s one word every 15 seconds. You can do that, surely? (Try speaking at the rate of one word every 15 seconds. Sheesh!)
And if you can’t do a full hour in a single sitting, break it down. Aim for 130 words in 30 minutes, 65 words in 15 minutes, or even 20 words in 5 minutes. Why? Because it’ll soon start to add up. Check out the maths …
250 words x 5 days a week = 1,250 words a week
1,250 words x 52 weeks = 65,000 words in a year
The average novella is 30-40,000 words. The average novel is 60-80,000 words. That’s two novellas or one novel in a year. In less time than you now spend watching ads on TV.
So get writing!