James Holden: Finding the time to write

403496_10150829202906949_4170179_nI became a father just over 18 months ago, since which I sometimes get asked how I find the time for writing. Some people seem to imagine that it’s a great struggle to find the time to sit in front of the laptop to work on a story amidst some scene of chaotic domesticity. But looking back at what I’ve written over the past few years, I seem to be writing more than before our daughter was born.

There are a number of reasons for this. One is that I feel that I’m on a bit of a roll – I’ve been fortunate to have had a lot of decent ideas that I want to take forward. I’m becoming more confident as a writer. And my continuing membership of a writers’ group has really helped, and our decision to self-publish a book gave me a further spur.

Surprisingly I find carving out the time to write a lot easier than I used to. The biggest reason for this is that I go out less than I used to, giving me more evenings to toy with. It’s also easier to reserve time for writing because if my wife is out, I need to be in (joint appearances, whilst not completely unknown, are rare). So, if she is out with friends, it gives me the perfect opportunity to crank up the laptop and do some writing.

Also, we are so much more organised than we used to be, in that our lives run so much more on routine than they did before. Our daughter goes to bed at 7 every evening and we often don’t hear from her until 6.30 in the morning. We know exactly what it is that needs doing over the course of the evening – even if it’s just cooking dinner, washing up and taking something out of the freezer for her to eat the following night.

A lot of people expect that tiredness must get in the way. Well, for a start we’re lucky that we manage to get around 7 hours sleep most nights. But I know that my body has adapted as well so getting up and getting into work doesn’t feel like the chore it used to after a poor night’s sleep.

So when people ask how I find the time to write, I guess that ultimately I’ve become better disciplined – making sure that I use the opportunities for time that come my way but also saying “I’m doing my writing two evenings this week” and then sticking to it. Having goals definitely helps and I’ve tried to set some personal goals that will hopefully see me continue my current roll.

(Incidentally, I have seen it suggested that writers keep a log of their writing habits to help with discipline – you can read more here.)


About James Holden

Brought up in Yorkshire, James has washed up on the shores of London. He spends his days working as a political geek. His short stories have previously been read by the Liars League.
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