Three Ways To Write With Minimal Time

Written by Caitlin Jans

I am a mother of two small children. One of them can more honestly be described as a baby. I also have a job, and various other commitments beyond that.

My free time is minimal, yet I’ve found ways to ensure that I always find ways to write, in spite of this. Part of this is because I know how important writing is to my mental health. As Franz Kafka put it “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.”

Here are three ways that I manage to fit more writing into my days.

I write with a timer

I personally love timers. I use them to meditate, clean the house, and of course write. If I have five minutes un-timed I have a habit of wasting that time on the internet. If I set a five minute timer, every second of that time is used for writing.

I am fine with setting a timer on my computer but other authors I know benefit from using their phone timer or a physical timer (I know one that actually owns various hourglasses).

The first few times you use a timer it might be harder to focus, but it is vital. Once a good habit loop is set up with a timer, it becomes easier and more rewarding.

I write while walking

Kevin J. Anderson, the sci-fi writer has long preached the benefits of “writing” into a recorder while hiking (more on that here). I’ve tried to write fiction this way on numerous occasions and it’s never worked for me.

Recently though I’ve found myself in a dry period in terms of writing poetry. I’ve started recording poems as I walk using the Voice memo’s app on my phone. It has been a rewarding process and I am really surprised by the quality of what I have produced so far.

I have to walk every day anyway, to get from place to place, so now I can write a little while running errands.

I write at a set time

Every day I write for a little bit as soon as I put my younger daughter to bed. No matter how much or little writing I manage to do the rest of the day, I make sure that I write for at least ten minutes at this time.

I look forward to this time every day (for multiple reasons) and it makes sure that even when I am particularly busy I am at least getting some writing done.

Occasionally I have to miss this period of writing because we are out, or having friends over for dinner, but most of the time this period is sacred and set aside for one thing.

Bio: Caitlin Jans is the founding editor of Authors Publish and the co-founder of The Poetry Marathon, an international writing event. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals including: The Adroit Journal, Rust + Moth, Barrow Street Journal, and Killer Verse.