This is the last episode in a little mini-series of episodes I did at the start of 2024, for writers who have finishing their book on their list of writing goals for the year ahead.
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Well, hey there, Writer. Welcome to The Resilient Writers Radio Show. I'm your host, Rhonda Douglas, and this is the podcast for writers who want to create and sustain a writing life they love.
Because, let's face it, the writing life has its ups and downs, and we want to not just write, but also to be able to enjoy the process so that we'll spend more time with our butt in the chair getting those words on the page.
This podcast is for writers who love books and everything that goes into the making of them. For writers who want to learn and grow in their craft and improve their writing skills. Writers who want to finish their books and get them out into the world so their ideal readers can enjoy them.
Writers who want to spend more time in that flow state. Writers who want to connect with other writers to celebrate and be in community in this crazy roller coaster ride we call the writing life. We are resilient writers. We're writing for the rest of our lives and we're having a good time doing it. So welcome writer – I'm so glad you're here. Let's jump right into today's show.
Well, hey there Writer. Welcome back to another episode of the resilient writers radio show. I am excited today to talk to you about finishing your book. As I mentioned earlier in this series that I'm doing, when I recently did an event, 98% of the writers that were present said that finishing a book was on their list of goals for 2024.
So today I want to talk about how you can fit finishing a book into your busy life. I've got six different ways you can do that. Maybe even a couple of bonus ways. We'll see. But it's really all about how we make it happen. Okay. So of all the reasons that writers give for not yet finishing their books, time is usually at the top of the list, in my experience, right.
We think that we would finish the book. We started the one that's gathering pixel dust deep in the recesses of our laptops. If only we had more time. How much more time, heaps of time, gobs of time, bunches of time, loads of time. We want at least one completely free day every weekend, but preferably just weeks and weeks of open time as we go off somewhere alone and away from all our daily tasks and distractions, we want a long stretch of time with nothing to do, but right.
Ideally with someone bringing us yummy foods, changing the towels and bedsheets every two to three days – I confess I really, really want this. Right. So for many writers, it's impossible to conceive of finishing a book without a blank calendar. That stretches miles out into the distance. And when was the last time any of us had one of those? You can see the problem.
But here's what I learned the really hard way. You don't need swaths of open, free time to write a book. You do need time, of course. But this time can be found within your current daily life. And I know that because that's been my own experience and the experience of all the writers who've finished their books with me. In my First Book Finish program.
Let me tell you this: no writer has the time to finish a book. Especially first books, first books are done in and among everything else they're done by people who are not yet, you know, really dedicated to living the life of a consistent writer and a published author. And so they are not done by people who have loads and loads of free time.
Okay, here we go: here are six ways you can fit finishing your book into your busy life.
Way number one. Is to get up a little earlier than usual for a while. Okay. So. I routinely meet up with writers who get up early in the morning, say 7:00 AM on a Monday or 7:00 AM on a Friday. It's how we start our day. And I think it works because if we don't start it early, we might not get any writing time in, at all. You know how it is, you get up and you have the best of intentions for your day, but by the time the end of the day comes, you're exhausted.
So if you want to prioritize your writing, you get up a little earlier than usual and do it first before the day has its way with you basically, before you give everything else over.
Keep in mind that this is for a while. It's not forever. I'm not saying you have to get up at 6:00 AM. Or 7:00 AM for the rest of your life. I'm saying a couple of days a week. Get up an hour earlier for a little while. For the time it takes you to finish the draft or revise it. That's way number one: I get up a little earlier.
Way number two to fit finishing a book into your busy life is to stay up a little later than usual for a while. Again, it's for a while, it's not forever. I'm not personally a night owl, but I do have friends who do some of their best creative work at night, or at least can string some sentences together, which is most of what's required for a first draft. It turns out we can.
All right. When we're a little tired, right. Did you know that Patricia Highsmith wrote the talented Mr. Ripley? While drunk. That's often how I feel when I'm tired, I'm not drunk, but I feel drunk. She's not the only one. If they can do it wasted, you can do it at 10:00 PM or at 8:00 PM after the kids are in bed.
Okay. And again, it's not forever. It's for a little while. It's also not every day of the week or every night of the week. It's just a couple of nights a week. Couple of early mornings, a couple of late nights for a few months. And the book is done. The other thing you can do is you can fit writing into your work-life consistently for as long as you need to.
So I wrote some of the stories in my collection of short stories called Welcome to the Circus during my lunch hour when I worked a busy job at Amnesty International. So I led a team there, and sometimes during the week I would leave the office. I would go to a local cafe, and write for 30 to 45 minutes, a couple of times a week, as often as I could manage it. I've also added an extra day or two onto work trips and hold up in a hotel to finish a story or start a new one, or do some revision, whatever it takes.
Right. So you can fit writing into your work-life consistently. That's number three. Number four. Oh, before I go to number four – with number three, the other way you can fit writing into your work-life is by leaving work at your regular time. Let's say you normally leave the office at five.
Instead of going home immediately, where all the tasks of being with your family and, you know, the kids' homework and yada yada, yada, all that stuff is going to take over. Go to a cafe for 30 minutes, again, not every day, just a couple of days a week. Right? And write for 30 minutes and then go home.
Way number four to fit writing into your life so that you can finish your book is to get somebody to help you out with your usual duties. So I do understand that sometimes we have a lot of stuff to do. Maybe it's care responsibilities with children or elderly parents. What if you asked someone in your family or from among your friends? To help out by caring for your loved ones in your place for just two hours once a week.
Yes. You can write a book in two hours once a week. And yes, you were allowed to not care for everyone else every hour of your waking life and to have some time for your own dreams and goals. So I'm thinking here of Jessica from First Book Finish, shout out to Jessica who lives with chronic illness and has small children yet managed to finish her book.
Or Julie and Kim who fit their writing books in among care responsibilities for elderly parents, or Ioanna who wrote some of her book while on vacation with her family. So other people do it and you can too.
And again, it's not forever. And you are allowed to have time for yourself. If you have a dialogue going on in your head where you've kind of been blaming your kids or your partner or your work for you, not being able to finish your book. Stop that right now, take back your personal power and your agency. And take responsibility for achieving your own dreams.
I have on occasion hired people to help out with everything from the laundry to house cleaning. So if that's something you can afford, you can steal time back there as well. But often you can just trade. You can trade with a friend who is a mom. She takes the kids for a play date on Saturday. You do it on Sunday and together you get the time you need.
Okay. So if you get creative and I know you're a creative person, because you were a writer. You are going to be able to make that happen.
Number five. For fitting a book, finishing a book into your busy life is to take a break from your extra commitments. Look. We're busy people and because we're busy people and I'm talking to women here. Because we're busy and we're confident and we're known as the people they get ish done. We get asked to take on a lot that's extra.
And a lot of us have trouble saying no. But not all your commitments need to be forever. This is a lesson I learned the really hard way by way of burnout. Along with its cousin known as “it's not your job to save the world.”
If you've taken on extra things, you took on a turn at the parents committee at school, a volunteer gig in your community, organizing the annual family reunion, or even serving on some kind of writer's group of some kind. You can lay down that extra work. Just as easily as you once picked it up. It doesn't have to be forever just long enough for you to finish the work that you were here to do. And write the book that only you can write.
Here's way number six. Don't shoot the messenger. Number six is remove social media from your phone and watch a little less Netflix. Okay. Don't get heart palpitations over this. None of this is forever and you don't have to go cold turkey.
But I'm willing to bet good money and a box of donuts that you get those screen time notifications on your phone showing that last week you spent three plus hours with your face in the wrong kind of book or enjoying a few too many grams of the Insta.
Right. What if you had one or two evenings in the week where you turn to your own book, instead of something Shonda Rhimes wrote for the screen. I mean. Bless the perfect bottoms of Régé-Jean Page and Jonathan Bailey, but those glutes are still going to be there on Bridgerton when you're done.
Okay. So I'm not saying no Netflix. Although that can also be a good experiment, I am saying a little less Netflix so that if you normally watch Netflix Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, how about Wednesday and Thursday? Instead you spend a couple of hours on your novel.
This is a 100% true secret to finding the time in a busy life to finish your book. And that is to take the drama out of it. If you are used to telling yourself, oh, I don't have the time. I can't do it. I don't have the time. Look, you only need a couple of hours a week to finish a book. I promise you. Over time, those hours add up. And they really can be found if you get creative about it.
And I know you're a creative person because you're a writer. You're an artist. You are made for creativity so you can problem solve and find ways to fit writing into your life. And ask for the space and help you need from your loved ones in order to do that. And then a few months from now, when the book is finished, you can go back to your regular routines and pick them up again. Or, Hey, start the next book.
All right. I hope that's been helpful today. The thing I really want you to do is. think about all of the ways that you currently use in your life that are not as productive as you would like that are not as fulfilling as it would be for you to finish your book.
As I said earlier, I think it's really important that we finish our book. I think that there is nothing more important than you finishing your book and getting it out into the world.
I do have a special resource for you on this. I have a PDF guide called 30 Ways To Find More Time To Write. And I've just gone through, I've given you a weekly writing time cheat sheet, and there are 30 new ways that you can use to find more time to write this week and every single week.
And it will help you eliminate distractions so that you can reset and re-energize your writing life in order to finish your book. To get a copy of that guide, just go to resilientwriters.com/find-time.
I hope that's helpful for you. And I'm going to see you. again on the next episode of The Resilient Writers Radio Show. Talk to you soon.
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