Beyond the Retreat: Finding the Time to Write…


By Jasmine Richards

So here at Book Bound towers we are super excited to have opened applications for the next Book Bound Writers Retreat, which will be in June 2016.

Retreats are a great opportunity to acquire the tools that will strengthen your writing as well as providing time to really focus on your story and what makes it unique.

Therefore, Book Bound is delighted to announce that we will be awarding one grant worth £495 for the 2016 retreat. More details can be found on our retreat booking page.

From my own personal writing experience, I have found retreats to be a key part of getting me across the finish line when it has comes to completing a novel. But retreats are only part of the journey.

What can you do for the rest of the year to ensure you carve out the headspace and time for your writing—especially when real life keeps getting in the way?

As a writer who has a demanding toddler to look after and a demanding day job, it is essential that I have some time management strategies in place so that I can get some writing done. Don’t get me wrong, these strategies are not a magic wand and I still struggle to find time to put pen to paper but writing is often about the little steps and these time management techniques are definitely a step in the right direction.

1.Become a Thief


Identifying what eats into your time is the first step in stealing time back for your writing. Try logging your activities for a week. Doing this, I discovered that I was often doing food shopping day to day —all that browsing and decision making was taking up time.

Now I try and do a weekly shop, which in turn forces me to plan a few of my meals in advance. This again cuts out dithering because I know we’re having cottage pie on Monday! Not only is this freeing up time but more importantly headspace!

2.Ditch the to-do-list

to do

I love a to-do-list and making one often makes me feel a lot calmer but it doesn’t necessarily help in getting the tasks done. The problem is you can’t just identify tasks you also need to be realistic in how long it might take to complete them and what your strategy might be for getting them done. Do you need to break the task into smaller bits? Do you need to delegate more at work or ask for help from friends or family when it comes to home life? Being honest and truthful with yourself will help get the task done faster and ensure that there is some time left at the end of the day to work on your novel.

3. Prioritise

Give yourself priorities every day. What needs to get done and what would you like to get done? You’ll feel a lot better if you get the must-get-done tasks out of the way and this will give you he headspace to write. Headspace is pretty much as important as time when it comes to being creative.

4. Learn to Say NO!

So this is one that I struggle with hugely. I hate the idea of letting people down and I am often flattered by the fact that I’ve been asked in the first place. The problem is—if you’re saying yes to everything odds are you’re not leaving enough time to focus on the things that you truly love like writing.

5. Knowing the Difference Between Stretch and Strain.

This is another one that I struggle with massively. Fact is, I like to be busy. I like to have lots of projects going on at the same time. I get self-worth and probably even more significantly a buzz out of all of those spinning plates.

spinning plates

I like to be stretched but it is important to recognise when stretch is turning into strain. When spinning all of those plates isn’t so fun anymore. This stressed, strained state is not a productive place to be. You may be busy but are you being effective? Is your writing suffering because of it?

Therefore, it is important to do a review every once in a while of what you actually have on and whether these things are the right projects to be focussing on. An honest audit will pay dividends when it comes to making space for your writing.

These are some of the things that have helped me. I hope you find them useful also. If you have any other ideas as to how you make time for your writing, please do share!








5 thoughts on “Beyond the Retreat: Finding the Time to Write…

  1. Thank you – I hadn’t thought of that – the mind-eating food shop – I’d better try no.1! I write using a sand timer that measures 58 minutes (and switch my phone to Do Not Disturb for an hour). I write the whole time then move away from my desk. It’s satisfying working the whole time without interruption – I lose count how many times I turn it in a day.

  2. The only way I could make time was to actually have a timetable. It worked at school – we fitted in all the different subjects so why not in life. I filled in things I have no choice about first. Out of the time left I picked a slot for writing – I have just over an hour once a week – I may find more opportunities if it’s a quiet week but I know I always have that time. It’s pinned up in the kitchen so all the family know the time when I am writing and don’t ask me to do things then. I’ve also told friends and wider family, that way I don’t have to say ‘no’ because they know not to ask for help at that time. It is working well at the moment so maybe it will help others.

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