If you’re like me, it was somewhere between December 28 and January 3 where you resolved to schedule writing sessions into your weekly routine. How’s that been working out for you?
My greatest difficulty as a writer, a writer whose primary source of income does not come from writing, is making time in my schedule to write. This includes time for related activities like plotting, editing, and reading up on the craft. And if you’re a serious writer, you’ll use stolen moments throughout the day for brainstorming, like developing character backstory for that grumpy car wash attendant you encountered. (And here you thought you weren’t a serious writer.)
In personal finance, author David Bach coined The Latte Factor, a metaphor to help readers identify small daily incremental expenditures that can quickly add up—coffee, candy, magazines—and how to redirect some of that spending to help improve one’s financial outlook. I think the metaphor, although coined for money matters, applies equally well to time. I’m referring to time that can be refocused and reallocated to writing, of course.
So how exactly can The Latte Factor metaphor help writers better allocate time for writing? Let’s use my life as an example to better understand my average pool of weekly hours that can be tapped for writing.
The majority of my weekday free time is in direct competition with family and exercise time. In the morning I can carve out about an hour and a half before I need to get showered and leave for work, and in the evening I have about two and a half hours before I begin to doze off. That accounts for twenty hours each week. And on the weekends, I’ve consistently seen five hours in the morning before I get wrapped up into a variety of weekend activities like chores, errands, etc. That accounts for ten hours each week. So in total, I have approximately thirty hours each week of “free time” that can be divided between family, exercise, and writing, not to mention the added weekend time that I’ve excluded in this model.
Thirty hours is a huge chunk of time. It’s nearly a full-time job! So why do I feel like I’m only using three hours a week to write? Probably because I’m trying to multi-task, like checking Twitter feeds and reading writing-related articles and blog posts. Therefore, the next step is to better prioritize my time.
I’m a morning person, and I’ve noticed my productive writing occurs at that time. So if I slice the numbers, I see that I have eighteen hours weekly in the mornings available to me, and thirteen hours in the evening. Again, these are huge chunks of time per week that can be better allocated to my specific needs.
With a little bit of shifting, negotiating, and dedication, I can swing a full eighteen hours weekly for prime writing and still have time in the evenings for family and exercise. Although your circumstances will no doubt be different, I bet you can fit writing into your weekly schedule, too.