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How to find time for your real writing - cover of The Hollow Man by Oliver Harris

My son Oliver, whose first novel The Hollow Man came out this year (it’s great and I’m not biased) has a good insight into how writers find time for writing – both in how we write and also what we write.

Let’s start with What.

Oliver talks about how he learned to “buy time” at the start of his novel. His story grabs you from the start, creating questions and in particular involving you in a complex and off-beat central character. This draws you in and “buys time” for the writer to step back and allow the plot to unfurl at its own pace.

You can see this technique at work in many great film scripts. Sunset Boulevard begins with a dead body (whose owner narrates the story of his own life up to his own murder) and then cuts straight to a chase, allowing Billy Wilder, and his co-writers Charles Brackett and DJ Marshman Jr to buy time to develop the central characters in a series of more thoughtful scenes that follow.

Could you imagine using this creative technique to boost up what could otherwise be a sedate first act?

The same idea also applies to How we write.

Our creative minds often need a little nudge to get going. Often we also feel guilty because there are other demands on our time. We tell ourselves we’ll sit down to write when we’ve done all the other work – but often that work is never-ending – and if it does end we are generally too tired to take advantage.

In this case, I suggest you buy time by doing a deal with yourself. Start the day with a fixed amount of time devoted only to writing. It doesn’t matter how short, you can get a great more written in regular 30 minute or 1 hour slots early in the morning than in a snatched day or two, grabbed out of your schedule at irregular intervals.

It may involve a little motivation – getting up early perhaps, or cutting down on the time you spend on other things – but the good feelings you get as you start immediately moving ahead will soon be their own reward.

If you want to learn more ways to get your creative mind working in powerful ways, then click here.

These are all practical techniques that I use myself every day in my professional working life, and have kept me creating and earning now for many years.

Join me on an inspiring and invigorating journey into the essential ways of working as a creative writer. Click here to learn more.