What Will You Give Up To Write Your Book?

Writing a book is a sacrifice of your precious time and energy. You could be doing many other things with that time.

In fact, if you have been wanting to write a book and have not yet managed it, then you already ARE doing other things with that time.

Lack of time seems to be the no. 1 reason people haven’t written their books yet, so it is the main thing you need to overcome.

You can’t have more hours in the day, so what will you give up in order to get that book written?

You cannot give up your family time or your job, so here are some other ideas.

  • Give up the TV. I haven’t had a TV for nearly 3 years and it is a liberating experience! We still watch movies and download TV programs on the iTunes store, but there is no constant distraction or temptation to watch more than what is chosen. TV is a time suck. Relaxing but it also eats your life away.
  • Give up gaming. Yes, gaming is fun and relaxing but how much time do you really need? I recently listened to a podcast of Mur Lafferty’s where she discusses with Jay Lake giving up gaming. He noted that for him it is the same part of the brain that games or writes, and so giving up gaming enabled him to write. I’m not a gamer but I have heard this before!
  • Give up some social time. I’m not suggesting you stop seeing your friends but perhaps cut back and see them every 2 weeks and keep the other time for writing.
  • Give up 1 hour of sleep. Ok, this is a hard one for me as I love sleep! But many people find that getting up an hour earlier in the mornings is effective for getting writing done, especially if it is before the kids get up.
  • Give up a relaxed commute. I commute nearly 2 hours per day and use the time to read all the blogs, catch up on key audios, do business emails and write on my little netbook, or even just Notes on my iPhone. I used to just listen to music but found that was a waste of time. Obviously this is only useful if you get the train or bus, but you could also think and dictate your thoughts while driving.

You don’t have to go cold turkey and stop altogether, but how about at least cutting back on your hours?

Or give up for a month in November and do NaNoWriMo along with me and many others, and see what you can achieve!

Image: Flickr Creative Commons H.Koppdelaney

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  1. says

    Excellent post. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and was wanting to write a post on finding time as well. I hope you don’t mind that I’m doing the same.

    I struggle with this and it’s my number one barrier.

    I’ll be sure to pass on some linklove in my post.

  2. says

    oh dear, hard!!! i think i’d give up some online social networking time because it’s all that I do when I am done with work. Cutting back on that should do my story a little bit of good.

    oh, is it november already??? nanowrimo time. :-)

    nice post, keep it up!

  3. says

    Good post! It’s hard to imagine where to find the time until you just do it! My plan is working so far – I get up an hour earlier that I need to and work on my novel, blogs, post to other peoples blogs, etc. At work, I take notes, Tweet when I have the chance, and am always thinking of the next scene.

    Night equals dinner, family time, daddy time with my son, some TV, and then once the baby is asleep, I’m on the couch with my wife, writing. As I said, this has been working so far!


  4. says

    Interesting topic. I often get a lot of work done in my office while the rest of my family watches tv. But I don’t even feel like I’m giving something up! To me, writing is far more interesting than a television show. Social time, now that’s a harder one to let go :)

  5. Ian says

    1 wife, 2 kids, one job, two blogs, online groups to inspire and manage, book research, and now the NaNoWriMo. How to do it…? How to write that book…?

    A little bit here a little but there and amazingly it gets done.

    I heard that the author of Kite Runner would wake up an hour earlier than his family everyday and write.

    I prefer writing in the evening but lately the kids have me worn out. And I’ve just signed up for NaNoWriMo so I need to write 50,000 words in one month. Haven’t wrote fiction in about 4 years now.

    T.V was easy to give up for me…especially now that a lot of channels post their shows online.

  6. K.M. Weiland says

    I’ve given up all of these things – and never regretted it. Well, except for sleep maybe! Sacrifice is never easy, but when I sit back and ask myself which is more important, which would I be more loath to lose, writing always, always wins.

    Great post.

  7. Gloria says

    What about Social Media? Gulp! Now that can be a time swallower.
    All are good recommendations. The fewer things you have clawing at you to eat up your time, the more time you have.

  8. says

    Hmm, I actually don’t think you have to give up much to write a book. I didn’t give anything up to write the first one. That’s why it took over four years – and that was with a co-author.

    Now, to edit the book? That took as much time as writing it and I had to give up a bit of screwing around time. Then you have submitting to agents and publishers. That takes time too. Then I recorded it and released it as a free audiobook. Then I had to publicize it. To do all that, I gave up plenty – less working on the house, less time working out, less time with my wife in the evenings.

    Writing the second book only took about eight months, but still didn’t seem to require a lot of sacrifice of things. Writing is the easy part – it’s everything else that takes the time.

  9. says

    While I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo, I am working at reducing things that distract me from writing. I’m cutting down my time in front of the television and even trying to spend less time aimlessly surfing the web.
    I think that once you give up something a little, and see it’s not so bad, it’s easier to give it up a lot more. I have some friends who don’t even own a television!

    Great post!

  10. says

    Joanna, it’s a funny thing about you finding constructive things to do during your two hours commute. I recently gained a similar period of inactive time whilst driving to work. My choice was to down load podcasts about writing, author interviews and audio books. (Finding time to read is also one of my struggles.)

    I even blogged about it and listed some good links I found, quick link if anyone wants to grab the links, they are at the end of the post;

    And which podcasts did I put at the top of my list?

    Some by a nice English lady who is now residing in Australia.

    Thanks for your podcasts Joanna, they are appreciated.

    PS; If anyone knows how to make a MP3 file from a Video file I would dearly love to know. Thinks -:- I suppose I could just buy a more advanced media player.

  11. says

    Good advice all around. In a writing class, I get all kinds of “are you insane?” looks from people when I suggest any or all of these same things.

    I’m doing NANOWRIMO too, and I always suggest others try it and fashion their own goal; I’m not working on a novel, but will produce 1800 new words/day toward a nonfiction project. Whatever works!

    I also stash small notebooks in my purse & car, & find lots of “hidden time” – the 10 minutes I wait in the car to pick up a kid after school, the delay in the bleachers before a kid’s game starts, on a long check-out line, etc. The word count does add up, no matter where or when they are written.

  12. says

    This resonates for me; I am flirting with the idea of doing NaNo this year for the first time, in order to write the sequel to my first book. Only thing is, I arguably have more time (or at least more fexible time) than when I wrote the first book. Still no sequel to show for it though.

    I think saying we don’t have enough time is a clever disguise that the dreaded Censor wears sometimes. It’s a good excuse to hide behind. We always find time for something we are passionate about, but fear of it can get in the way and stick us to the sofa instead of the keyboard…

  13. says

    Hi Joanna,
    This is a great list of things to consider taking time out from.

    Gratefully I’m not a TV watcher any more and I don’t game. I know how big an addiction both can be, as well as time sucks.

    What I will be doing is turning the internet off at the wall – and it wont be going back on until the word count is done.

    I have been slowly and kind of successfully getting up earlier – which I have to admit in the southern hemisphere is much easier given its warm and get lighter much earlier. This is the first year for me I haven’t been able to put a hold on everything to just concentrate on NaNo so I want to maximise every minute of the day. I’d like to think with two NaNos successfully under my belt I will be better able to cope with additional committments on my time (who the hell thought November was a great time to publish an anthology for the firs time – oh yeah – me. d’oh!)

    What I have learnt in the past six years – is busy people accomplish more. If you’re already busy – consider yourself well prepared to squeeze in 1667 words a day.

  14. says

    Tips worthy of note. May sound simple and obvious yet some writers fail to see the reality of a little sacrifice to focus themselves on their own book. But, of course, it may not be that easy to give up a little of something if you already have been used to in many other things aside from writing. Nevertheless, it is still worth a try.

  15. Johanna van zanten says

    hi Joanne

    Good points. I have chosen to skip TV, cut out some social activities and although I work full time in a hard job, I have managed to write two novels in 3 years, maintain a blog and write still some short stories on the side.
    Tv is putting your brain to sleep as scientist who measured the brainwaves of people watching tv have proven, so it’s an easy choice.

    You gotta do what you gotta do….
    Johanna van Zanten

  16. says

    It was so timely last night. I was at a critique group meeting and we were all talking about when we could fit in a writing time. For me the answer is simply making it a priority. I have been doing so much other blogging and work to get a book published, but I was able to share this list from this post and it really helped.

  17. says

    Hi Joanna,

    Everything is all about sacrifice,nothing good and worthwhile comes easy.

    For me,it’s easy giving up everything to write – gaming,sleeping and even eating but the best I will love to give up perfectly is self doubt and laziness!



  18. Mike says

    Excellent advice. I find that I get caught up in watching TV and gaming during the time I set aside for writing. I shall go cold turkey for a few weeks and see how I do.



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