As an early freelancer, you might be starting your writing career with your plate already full.
A lot of the freelance writers we know start off with a full or part-time job, lots of responsibilities, possibly a family, and more.
One of the things that can easily get in the way of starting or building a freelance writing business is time. It often seems like there’s not enough of it.
And, freelance writers need time. We need to:
- Search for jobs (I love how Contena cuts down on the time for this)
- Apply for jobs
- Research companies to pitch
- Pitch those companies
- Follow up on all the emails sent
- Write drafts
- Edit our work
- Send articles (on time!)
When you think about adding all of this into an already-packed schedule, it can feel like an impossible task.
But- it isn’t.
If you take a look at this list, a lot of these tasks can fit into small pockets of time- you can do a job search while you wait for your coffee to be made; you can check email in the car (not while you’re driving- in the pick-up line, for example).
BUT- there is one big task on this list that most of us need to have focused time for: writing.
I work at home with my kids, and while I can fit a lot of the freelance writing tasks into my day, and I can do them with kids talking to me, writing can’t happen that way.
As a freelance writer, we need to have the time and ability to focus on our writing.
When you’re starting out, and probably fitting writing into an already busy schedule, you may feel like you don’t have enough time.
Chances are- you do, but you might need to make some adjustments in how you schedule your time and your day.
Here are 7 Ways to Make Time for Writing When You’re Busy
- Get up early. I don’t like this one. I can’t do it. But for some people, this is a great option. You can start with 15 minutes to get into the habit, and work your way up so that you end up with dedicated writing time first thing in the day.
- Stay up later. This is me. I’m more of a night owl. When my kids are in bed, I get back to work. 8pm and later is when I do a lot of my work and writing. Keep in mind that most of us have a point late at night where exhaustion kicks in, so pay attention to the quality of your work at the end of the day.
- Cut back on your favorite TV shows. Listen, I love TV; it’s how I unwind at the end of the day, so I know it’s hard to cut back. However, by committing to watching your shows on the weekend, or only when your draft is done, you can be more productive with your work.
- Use your lunch hour. Being able to take a break during your day is important, but if you’re short on time, then using the break in your workday can be a good option. Use an app like Evernote to keep all your writing in one place. Even if this isn’t your best writing, you can create outlines, get some thoughts down, and be ready for more dedicated work time when you have it.
- Audio record yourself. When you’re in the car, getting ready, or other times where you can’t sit down to write, but you can be thinking about writing, start a draft of your piece by audio recording it. Then, use this hack to help you get the words into your computer.
- Schedule a meeting with yourself. Just like you’d set time aside for something important on the job, do the same with your writing. Because I work from home, I find it helpful to make these meetings with myself away from home. Pick a time and a location where you can focus, and commit to writing during that time. Limit all other distractions.
- Use the time whenever you wait. Though these periods of time might be shorter and won’t give you a lot of time to work, use times where you are waiting: for public transit, in a long line for coffee, at the doctor’s office, or to pick up your kids. Instead of spending time on Facebook or playing Candy Crush (just me?), use that time to get work done.
The reality is, we are busy.
And we can also make time to get our writing done.
But- if you’re a writer and you also have kids…well, that can complicate things in the “being productive” department.
Tips for Freelance Writers Who Are Parents:
I have two young kids; one is in kindergarten and our toddler is home with me. A lot.
The tips I talked about above are still useful for parents, but there are other ways parents can fit writing into a busy schedule.
Here’s how I do it:
- Use lesson times. When my son is at jiu-jitsu, I can often be found with my laptop, writing. I realized I don’t need to watch every moment of what’s happening. I can usually crank out some good work while he’s at a class, and I don’t even feel bad about it!
- Use nap times. If you’re at home during naps, it’s tempting to be productive with your household chores. I use naptime as prime writing time. The chores will get done at other times, and I can do things like fold laundry while I hang with the kids or unload the dishwasher when I’m mentally less alert. I will cry when my son stops napping.
- Take advantage of the TV. Listen, I get that too much TV isn’t a good thing, but it’s also important that we have time to work and to grow our writing business. I usually let my older son watch some TV while my younger son naps so they’re both occupied with something.
- Hire help. With young kids, a lot of our time is spent with them. That’s a wonderful thing. But, it affects the amount of time you have to work. In the summer I hired a mother’s helper. I was home in case she needed anything, but it allowed me to get some extra work time in. And, honestly? The kids loved it!
When it comes to freelance writing, don’t let excuses get in your way, especially that you’re busy and don’t have enough time.
With these 7 tips (plus 4 more for the parents), even the busiest of individuals can make more time for writing.