By Adam Dreece

When I released The Man of Cloud 9 at the end of September, I took a moment to realize that it was my fifth novel and my 7th book.

Since January 4th, 2014, when I started writing the first one, I had stolen every scrap of time I could to help transform a distant dream into a real indie author career.
I wrote my first two books while having a full-time job outside of the house; the rest while I’ve had the job of overseer of the progeny (aka stay at home dad of three kids).
I get asked a lot about where I find the time. So when I was asked to write an article to help other writers, I thought what better place to start than dealing with time.

Here are some of the strategies I use:

Television is the Mind Killer

I took inventory of how many hours per week, and per month, of television I was watching. It was an unbelievable amount of time. No wonder I was often feeling like I was just letting my life pass me by, because I was.
Over the past three years, I’ve refined this down to a basic pattern:
1. Put the kids to bed.
2. Write for about an hour to an hour and a half. If the Muse is with me, keep going! Often I’ll stop around 9:30 pm.
3. Spend time with my spouse, which often, yes, is watching TV together.

When the deadlines are approaching, or I’m at the really exciting part of the book, it’s pretty typical for me to look up and realize that it’s 11 pm.
Wondering, Wondering, Wondering
Whenever I have a spare moment, like standing waiting in line, I’m thinking about the storyline. Where are the weaknesses? What part do I want to write next? How do I fix that plot hole?
I kick ideas around like it’s a can on an empty street. If something clicks, I pull out my phone or notebook and make some notes, maybe even roughing out a scene. Five minutes at the grocery store, ten minutes waiting for the bus; it adds up.
This also gets me energized and excited and eager to sit down and write. So, instead of sitting down and staring at the blank page timidly, I’m standing on the keyboard with a sabers in hand yelling, “PREPARE TO BE BOARDED!” (Well, only when my wife’s not around).

While the Mice Play

For a year, my sons were home three days a week, and often when they were playing peacefully (which didn’t last), I’d try to make the most of my time. I couldn’t fully get into a story writing mode, because I’d invariably get interrupted. However, I could sketch ideas. Or if I was writing a serial, potentially draft a quick episode. I could look at my story from a distance and find some gaps and realize there were some questions to ask. Which brings me to…

The Right Story Size

While writing my latest novel, “The Man of Cloud 9”, I decided to experiment with writing a serial. I gave myself a goal of writing an episode a week, between 500 and 1200 words, on top of everything else that was going on.
Over the course of a couple of days, when my sons were playing, I would sketch out an episode, and then I’d steal one evening of writing my novel to write the episode.
When I hit episode 18, and could see there were only two left to go, I wrote them in two days. To my disbelief, there it was, “The Wizard Killer – Season One.”
This opened my eyes to different lengths and styles of stories, and how to strategically use my time. Even after I’d thought I’d squeezed out all the extra time, I’d still found the time for a serial.

Being Ruthless

I guard my writing time, but more importantly, I don’t let it take away from my family. They are the ones who make everything possible, and getting a book out at their expense is not worth it. So when I’m with my family, I’m really with them. When I’m with my spouse, she has my attention. And on those all too infrequent occasions when I’m with friends, I’m there in the moment.
Outside of that, I try to make every minute count. When I’m waiting for my kid to finish soccer practice, when I’m at the grocery store, or just taking myself for a walk, I keep the stories running in my head. Just because I’m not at a keyboard at that moment doesn’t mean that I’m not writing. It just means when I finally sit myself down, those keys are going to be smoking.

Adam Dreece
Young Adult Author for all ages
Public Speaker for schools & conventions – writing, indie publishing, and unlocking your potential.

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2 Comments

  1. Email’s the Other Mind-killer!
    I get about 200 emails a day. May of them come in a research stream directed at a future book; so I do need to pay them some attention. It’s tempting to deal with emails at the day’s first available moment but that can eat up writing time (as it is doing now). I need to train myself to postpone email until after the writing. Ohhhh…that feels better!

    1. Eva,
      I so understand that!
      I too get a huge amount of email each day and it can take me sometimes 2 hours each morning to go through them. And that is not even replying to them yet!
      Keeping your focus on writing is the most important task; the emails should come later 🙂

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