“I would love to write a book, but I simply don’t have the time.”
This is a phrase I know only too well. Not only do I hear it regularly from would-be-writers, I said it myself for about twenty years. I honestly thought I could churn out book, after book, if only I had the time. I’d swoon over publicity shots of debut novelists grinning from ear to ear next to their shiny new books and I’d think; “Ah, yes but they must have had the time to write. I simply don’t have the time. They must be a lot less busy than I am.”
This is exactly how I used to think; but then something amazing happened.
I sat down and wrote a book.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy and my debut novel The Goldfish Boy involved a lot of stopping and starting. During those barren weeks, I was simply too busy reading about how other authors planned their ‘Typical Writing Day’ and working out how I could possibly squeeze writing into a busy schedule of work, school runs and life in general. I remember reading about a new mum who finished her first novel by writing every time her new-born baby napped (no, I don’t believe it either). And then there was a woman who worked long hours in an extremely stressful job in the NHS who wrote from 11pm until 2am, got four hours sleep then did it all again the next day. The thought of it exhausted me.
So what changed? What magical formula did I discover to help me find the time to write a book?
Some writers swear by set hours each day and others by daily wordcount targets but what I did was even simpler than that. I stopped looking for the answer and simply wrote as and when I could fit it in. I’m a morning person so, every now and then I would set my alarm for 5am, make a pint of tea, and write until the kids woke up at 7. I didn’t do it very often, but those couple of hours were so concentrated they always boosted my wordcount tremendously. Occasionally I would take my laptop to my son’s football training and sit and write in the car. Again, knowing I only had an hour made everything much more focused. Rather than looking for the answer in a set routine, I was learning to spot those little windows of opportunity and dive in.
I’m now writing my second novel and occasionally I drift onto social media, my stomach plummeting when I read tweets from authors who have managed to write 3,000 words that day when I’ve only managed 500. But this time I’m not going to stress over it. I know what works for me and that is little and often. My biggest concern nowadays is how I’m going to fit some exercise into my life. But to be honest with you, I’m simply don’t have the time.
Lisa Thompson worked as a radio broadcast assistant first at the BBC and then for an independent production company making plays and comedy programmes. During this time she got to make tea for lots of famous people. She grew up in Essex and now lives in Suffolk with her family. The Goldfish Boy is her debut novel.
The Goldfish Boy is available now, wherever books are sold.