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The Hack’s Guide to Finding Time to Write

hacks for hacks

Warning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody.

Nobody has time to write. I myself didn’t have time to write this column, yet here you are reading it. How’d I do it? What’s my secret? Well, my creative writing professor in college always used to say, “If something is important, you figure out a way to make it happen.” And since getting praise and validation from countless online strangers is important to me, I made the sacrifices necessary to write an article where you can say nice things about me in the comments section.

But I’m an online advice columnist who’s been doing this for a while. Not everybody starts out knowing the incantations and precise measurements of blood required stop the flow of time for long enough to scratch out a monthly article. I started with a few tips and tricks for finding time to write, which I’ll share with you here.

Carry a notebook everywhere

Something that can fit in your pocket, like a Moleskine or one of those little pads that TV detectives use. The blank page of a new notebook is a vacuum that will suck the words out of you, which is a natural and not-gross way to think about writing. The great thing about carrying a notebook is that it’s a constant reminder to focus on your craft. You used to only feel Writer’s Guilt while you were squandering your free time after the kids went to bed. Now you can feel it all the time!

Use your spare moments

Those few minutes you normally use to check Twitter or drive to work? Those are ideal times to jot down ideas. Every time you check Twitter, exercise your prose muscles by writing at least one tweet first. During your morning commute, open up your phone’s voice-recorder app and craft a tragic narrative as you rehearse all the arguments you’d like to have with your ex if only the moment was right.

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photo by YJ-Lee

The sleep debate

Going without sleep has fallen out of fashion. Your brain needs to rest, just like any muscle. Recent studies have shown that you’re actually less productive and less creative if you’re tired all the time. You can cancel this out, however, by simply staying up so late, you forget how addled your brain has become. This sort of self-delusion and motivated reasoning definitely counts as writing, by the way.

Check your schedule

Make the most of your calendar to maximize writing time! Tally up the parties, literary events, and catch-up lunches you’ve scheduled with your friends. Then, for each one, write the excuse you’ll give when you cancel your plans so you can stay home and watch 90s music videos on YouTube.

Open your mind

Writing isn’t just done in front of a computer, or in a notebook. If you decide you must sleep, remember that dreaming is basically writing in the most unrestrained way possible. During the day, you can puzzle out plot developments while in line at the grocery store. You can base characters on the annoying people in the row behind you at the movies. You’ve got possibilities for harnessing your creativity at all moments of the day. If you expand your definition of writing to the fullest extent, you’ll find you’re always writing. Isn’t that great? You won’t ever have to stop. EVER.

What are your tips for finding time to write? Share your ideas in the comments!

About Bill Ferris [2]

After college, Bill Ferris [3] left Nebraska for Florida to become a rich and famous rock star. Failing that, he picked up the pen to become a rich and famous novelist. He now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and looks forward to a life of poverty and ridicule.