Tried-and-True Approaches for the Time-strapped Writer

The WordSisters have been invited to participate in another blog tour about writing processes, this time by novelist Cynthia Kraack, author of MINNESOTA COLD and the Ashwood Trilogy. She just released the final book in the series, LEAVING ASHWOOD. To learn more about her books and blog, visit

When asked about my writing process, I’m often baffled—writing processes are as individual as the writers in question—will my process really be helpful to others? But many writers struggle with the first step in the writing process—finding time to write, so I’m offering some suggestions.

Never give up

Finding Time to Write Your Blog, Novel, Memoir or Poems

Our creative writing competes with work, family, or household responsibilities. It’s easy to get discouraged and think, “How will I ever get this project finished? If only I had a week/month/year off. And a wealthy patron.” Here are several tried-and-true approaches for the time-strapped writer:

  • Every day, set a timer and write for 20 minutes. When I heard about this method, I was skeptical—20 minutes doesn’t sound like enough time to do anything substantial! But Jill, a member of my nonfiction writers’ group (and the person who gave WordSisters our name), takes this approach and drafted a novel over the course of a year—20 minutes at a time. Even if you skip a day, the writing time adds up to 2 hours per week.
  • Set aside 2 hours every week for writing. I wrote the first draft of my memoir in 2-hour hunks every Saturday over the course of a year. For my blogs, I usually allow 2-3 hours within a two-week span. I draft a blog in one sitting and revise it another time or two after that. Oh yeah, because my writing time is so precious, I’ve learned to turn off my email and cell phone while I’m writing—amazing how much more I get done without any distractions. The world can wait!
  • Write while traveling. I recently connected with Dan von der Embse, a poet who frequently travels and uses his inflight time to write.

What’s common to all of these approaches is that although the available time is limited, each writer is committed to writing and has created a significant body of work by using the time she or he did have.

Eliza Waters blends writing with exquisite nature photography, and her blog is the next stop on this tour. Through her words and photos, she offers readers a breath of fresh air as well as insightful commentary. Be sure to check out her blog!

Finding Time to Promote Your Blog

While I’ve acquired the discipline to blog faithfully, I regularly wimp out when it comes to systematically attracting new readers to the blog. I’m uncertain about what to do so I avoid doing anything. Great strategy, huh?

Please share your wisdom! What has helped YOU find (or grow) your audience?


9 thoughts on “Tried-and-True Approaches for the Time-strapped Writer

  1. Pingback: Blog Tour | Forest Garden

  2. Regarding your question about building an audience: I started my photography blog for two reasons. First, just for the pleasure of sharing images that make me happy. Second, as a stimulus to get out there and develop my photography skills. I really had no intention of building an audience, and I was surprised by the occasional “visit” and “like”. Then for some reason I started participating in the WordPress weekly photo challenge. Holy moly, I pick up a couple of new followers every week just from the photo challenges! I know that some bloggers link to Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest, but I don’t do that. I do however have the same process as Eliza Waters – I always visit my visitors.

    I see that WordPress also has a weekly writing challenge. Perhaps I will have a go at it myself!

  3. An excellent post, Ellen, and like Eliza, agree with your tips on disciplined writing. As with anything one wants to accomplish, we must work steadily in small increments. Most of us don’t have the luxury of huge blocks of time. And if we did, might not dedicate them to writing, anyway. There are always things waiting on the “to do” list, large and small. Your further tip to turn off the phone and resist the email while writing are good ones… though I don’t follow that advice. I’m often interacting with other bloggers through “comments” as I write.
    Eliza and I found each other through the process of exploring one another’s blogs. Again, a time issue… to follow up with each person who registers a “like;” But a source of inspiration and new friendships when one makes the effort 😉 Best wishes, WG

  4. I think the timer approach is great, as we don’t realize what we can do in 20 minutes! I’m thinking of revisions, especially. I actually tried this when we were packing to move, setting the stove timer for one hour. When the buzzer sounded I had several boxes packed. There IS time for writing if you can work this way. And in the mood or not, that fits-and-starts time can be used well.

  5. I think your tips on disciplined writing times are very spot on. We must make the commitment to ourselves first. Although being accountable to another fellow writer or group helps, too.
    As to your last question: I go back to the quote – “The best way to have a friend is to be one.” When I first started blogging, I searched areas of interest and checked out other blogs. If I liked what I saw, I ‘liked’ and ‘followed’ if I wanted to read more from that person in the future. They often will reciprocate. Over time, as comments fly back and forth, friendships develop with like-minded individuals. I really enjoy reading others work and seeing the wide variety of talent and heart that goes into blogging. I love seeing their soul’s passion expressed. I endeavor to do that in my own blog.
    Every time someone new ‘likes’ or ‘follows’, I check out their blog. It is time-consuming, but it is time well spent. I find more wonderful blogs that way!

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