How I Find The Time To Write So Much

 After giving a presentation to a group of first-year faculty and facilitating a discussion about transforming a classroom into a research laboratory, I had a young professor stick around to ask a few follow-up questions. The questions weren't about our discussion. They were about how I had been able to keep an active writing schedule on top of a heavy teaching and administrative load. This is what I told her:

  • I don't have kids, so my spare time is mine to spend as I please. 
  • I set time aside every week as my writing time. I am uncompromisingly selfish with my writing time.

The block of writing time doesn't have to be huge. Stephen King writes for around three hours every morning (actually, his target is 2000 words, but for him this seldom runs into the afternoon). Kurt Vonnegut reported writing for four hours every day--three in the mornings and one in the evening. You might be surprised that these authors, King in particular who has over 50 bestsellers, don't write for eight or nine hours every day.

I think that if you can find time for three hours every week, then you will develop a prolific writing schedule. At King's rate, that's 2000 words a week, which is 8-10,000 words a month. That's one long article or book chapter every month. The trick is sticking to the schedule.

For one summer, I followed King's method of writing 2000 words every day, even at the beach. I always finished it in the morning. I wrote four novels. It was unbelievable. In retrospect, however, I decided that the sacrifice was too great. It was a one summer experiment. 

Today I try to write at least 1,000 words of whatever book or article I am working on. If I am still feeling creative, then I will write a blog post or LinkedIn article. If I am still feeling creative, then I will work on revising. After that I don't let myself work on writing any longer. The diminishing returns are too great. I go for a walk or mow the lawn or clean the house. How do I have so much free time? See the first bullet point.


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