How to be a Time Bandit

timebandits02One of the questions I’m asked most often at author events is: how do you find the time to write? Most of us feel we don’t have enough time in the day for work and family commitments, catching up with friends and the constant buzz of social media, let alone to write a 90,000-word novel. Well, I’m a busy working mother and I have written two books in between school runs, emptying dishwashers and running my own business.

The secret is to become a Time Bandit.

If, like me, you need to earn a living, then you have to steal it from other parts of your life. I wrote Paris Kiss in four hours stints on Saturday afternoons at Glasgow University library while my husband looked after our young son. It took me two years to complete the first draft, but I got there chapter-by-chapter, week-by-week. I did my research in the evenings when I stole back hours from the biggest time thieves of all: television and social media.

Some writers stealthily get up at dawn before their families and the working day get started – that’s what  E Annie Proulx did when her children were young. Others write in the evening after the kids have gone to bed, although I’m always too exhausted by then and want to catch up with my husband over dinner and a glass of wine. Some – fast writers no doubt – write in their lunch hour. Stephen King wrote Carrie like this while he was teaching in a High School until he could afford to write full time. Like me, some work on their days off – Val McDermid wrote her first four novels on Monday afternoons while she worked as a Sunday newspaper reporter. And a great tip I’ve learned is to take a week’s ‘writing holiday’ from work.

To write, you do have to sacrifice a chunk of your free time but, as most writers will tell you, writing is a labour of love. So, if you want to write that novel, there’s nothing to stop you. Go for it!

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