Posted in Writing & Publishing, Writing Tips

The “I Don’t Have Time to Write” Excuse

It takes the average person a minute or less to read a single book page. It takes me anywhere from five minutes to hours to write a single page, depending on the scene. So, yeah. Writing takes time. And you’re busy. We’re all busy. We all have work or school or other obligations that must be met day after day, leaving little to no free time to do anything—let alone write. So how then, do so many people manage to write novels? Do these people magically have more hours in a day? They must have less busy lives—they have more free time than you do, right?


Finding time to write isn’t about having less going on in your life. It’s about prioritizing and making time. Here are some quick tips to squeeze writing into your day, no matter how busy you are.

1. Keep a notebook next to your bed. Those random spouts of brilliance you have when you’re half asleep? Don’t just roll over and forget about it. Grab a pen and scribble it down even if you have to do with your eyes half-open.

One of my favorite writing quotes is “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”
Saul Bellow

2. Write in intervals. If you can’t carve out an hour of your day to spend in front of the computer, take five minutes. If you’re in school, write a paragraph between classes or on an off period. Write while you eat lunch. Write for five minutes when you first get up in the morning, before jumping in the shower. Write for five minutes when you first get home. Write before you go to sleep. Write while you eat breakfast. Write whenever you possibly can. Carry a notebook around with you for whenever you have a free second—a cab/train ride, waiting for someone to show up for a lunch date, ect.

3. Put your technology to use. Almost everyone now-a-days carries around a cell phone at all times. Guess what? Every phone has a notepad function on it. Never used it? Get familiar with it. It’s lighter than a notebook and easy to whip out when you’re standing in line at Starbucks or sitting in a drive-through or waiting for a bus. Your writing doesn’t have to be perfect. Just take advantage of those small bouts of free time and write.

4. Use a voice recorder (like the one on your phone) while you drive. Press record as you pull out of your neighborhood in the morning, and just talk until you make it to school or work. Describe what you see, a character you thought up, a scene you dreamt about—whatever. Just get those ideas out. Even if it sounds horrible at first, chances are, at least one thing you say will be useful.

5. Prioritize. I want you to close your eyes. Now picture yourself when you first get home after a long day at work or school. What do you do first? Do you kick off your shoes and relax for an hour in front of the TV? Do you go grab a bite with friends? Take a power nap? Fool around on Google/Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr/Goodreads/YouTube/WordPress/Instagram? Whatever it is you normally do, stop. Take that hour or two that you use for pleasure and write. If you want to be a writer, after all, nothing should be more relaxing and pleasurable than writing. 😉

The problem with people complaining about not having enough time to write is they have more free time than they realize. Be productive. Put your time to good use.

If you really want to write that novel (or short story or poem or whatever) make a promise to yourself. Promise yourself that you’re all in. If you make an effort to squeeze writing into your day, soon enough, it’ll accumulate into more writing than you’d think you’d be able to produce.

Do you ever feel like you don’t have time for writing? What do you do? Share your thoughts in the comments and get writing 😉



Hello! My name is Katie and I like to write. If I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, running, playing with my dogs, or eating peanut butter ;)

8 thoughts on “The “I Don’t Have Time to Write” Excuse

  1. It is not that I don’t have the time to write, I do not have the energy or focus. My mind either goes “ok I need to write…ooooooooooooh shiny” or “ok I need to write *yawn* but first a nap*. I had a injury a few years ago that has totally screwed up my energy and focus. I do keep a notebook with me all the time to write notes but other than that it’s basically write when I can for however long I can focus.


    1. I have the same problem sometimes. Staying focused and motivated can be difficult. Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and push through it!
      Thanks for stopping by!


  2. I could be the poster child for what you describe! I constantly tell myself I don’t have time to write but I sure can find time to putz on the internet {{{bows head in shame}}}. My problem is that I use the excuse ‘unless I have the time to make it perfect, I don’t have the time to write’. I participated in Camp Nano a year ago August and amazingly I found time to write almost every single day and I WON! Of course that nasty little voice crept back in my head telling me it was all total crap and I haven’t written seriously since. Got any advice how to make that nasty little voice ‘shut up’?


    1. First of all, congratulations on winning Camp Nano! That’s a big accomplishment! That little voice can be a serious buzz kill when it comes to your writing, and I think all writers deal with it at some point. I give myself permission to write a horrid first draft to take the pressure off. The rough draft is exactly that. A ROUGH draft. You can always go back to edit and clean it up later, so just let yourself be creative and have fun on the first go. Books aren’t written. They’re rewritten, right? 😉 It’s difficult, but you have to learn to be less hard on yourself and recognize that good writing takes time. Sometimes I have to rewrite something 5, 6, 7 times before I finally like it–and that’s after letting it rest months between revisions. Don’t give up, and I hope you keep writing! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!


  3. I think people like to make excuses, but ultimately they’re going to do what they want to do. So even though they say they want to write, if they aren’t actually making time for it, they must not want to that badly! My probably is often that I want to write, but it takes so much focus and concentration that I might not feel like I have the time to devote to getting in the right mind-set. But still, that’s not really a good excuse. If I really want to write, I should DO it.


    1. I agree with you completely! It all comes down to how badly you actually want to write. If it’s that important to you, you’ll find a way.
      Thanks so much for stopping by!


  4. Great article. In the end its all about prioritizing. For me, I usually get my creativity in short bursts. So when I’m hit with one of those, I grab a paper or my trusty note book and write away regardless of whether I use it as a blog post or for some other writing I might do in the future.
    I also am down with the voice recorder idea. It is easier to talk about a topic sometimes (if you are used to talking to yourself lol which I am).These few weeks since its exam time, I’m always making this excuse, but so far I’m surprised myself but I’ve been able to keep blogging through the exams itself without much tampering with my study schedule ^_^


    1. I usually get my creativity in bursts as well. And good for you for keeping up with blogging with exams and a busy schedule! That can be really tricky sometimes! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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