Making Time To Write: 4 Tips From Janet Evanovich

Making Time To Write: 4 Tips From Janet Evanovich


It is the act of writing that makes you a writer. Talking about writing, reading about writing, and blogging about writing doesn’t do it. Those are all good extras, but only by putting words on paper, by creating something out of nothing, do you become a writer.

In her book, How I writeJanet Evanovich has great advice regarding time and discipline. Evanovich has sold more than 75 million books. She was the third richest author in the world, after James Patterson and Stephen King, in 2012 (Forbes Richest Authors) and she featured on the list in 20152014, and 2013. She is the best-selling author of the Stephanie Plum series, 12 romance novels, as well as the Alexandra Barnaby series. She is hysterically funny and seriously successful.

Janet says:

Write something every day, even if it means getting just a few sentences on the screen. Here are four ways to accomplish this:

  1. Do it by time: Start small, if you want. Start with five minutes and increase the time by five minutes a day. In two weeks you’ll be sitting at your desk for about an hour a day. Add more time as you choose.
  2. Do it by pages: Start with one paragraph a day and work toward a page a day. If you do only that, by year’s ends you will have written 365 pages.
  3. Do it by word count: Plan to write a specific number of words a day. Hemingway wrote around 500 words a day – approximately two pages.
  4. Do it by appointment: Treat writing like any other part of your daily routine. Carve out a place – the corner of a room or the kitchen table – and a certain time of each day for writing. Then show up for work.

I love this advice. Increasing the time and pages seems like a good idea, because it is like exercise and getting yourself fit instead of plunging straight in and becoming overwhelmed. Word counts and appointments are concrete commitments. Those are good.

And I want to add one of my own:

Do it by hand: Keep a pen and notebook nearby. Somewhere in your day there is a ten minute gap that can become a writing time. The odd break between two meetings, the last ten minutes of your lunch break, the five minutes you wait outside the school for your kids. You don’t have to be at your desk, in front of your computer.

It is easier said than done, but it is definitely do-able. Life is always going to be in the way. Friends and family all intrude with love and the best intentions, but you have to stand firm. I have banned all sentences that contain the words “Can you just quickly…”. I have a harder time with sentences that contain the word “lunch”, but I am trying.

Don’t let anyone, including you, get in your way. Commit to yourself. Send yourself a meeting invite if you have to. Hire yourself as a client (Thanks, Anthony Ehlers, for that one), book a meeting room for ten minutes at the same time every day, and go write.

Whatever works for you, do it. Make the time. Fight for it.

Time to Write Clock

Mia Botha by Mia Botha

If you enjoyed this post, read

  1. How To Make Your Characters Shockingly Real
  2. Write About What Matters
  3. How To Plan Your Blogging Week In Fewer Than 15 Minutes
  4. 7 Writing Tips From Roald Dahl
  5. The Man With The Golden Pen — 5 Writing Secrets From Ian Fleming

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This article has 7 comments

  1. yasmeen

    Thank you for sharing such wonderful tips

  2. Shawn

    I find that 500 words is almost magical. If my goal is 1500 it’s too easy to procrastinate when I’m tired, or have a million other responsibilities. It’s so little I can shame myself into it. Well, it’s just 500 words. I can do _that_.” Maybe it takes four or five five minute sit-downs, but one paragraph will garner 150 words and then I’m a third done! Twenty minutes of solid writing is easily five hundred words. Once I’ve sat down for 500, I’ll often find myself at a thousand or two. If I hadn’t forced myself toward the 500, then I would have nothing. 😉

  3. agnimita mukherjee

    i believe writing dwells in conversing with the soul it rises from there and gives birth to a vivid pictographic art which is all inhibited in imagination 🙂

  4. P.D. Workman

    One of my most popular blog posts is on finding time. Some good resources at the bottom too:

    http://pdworkman.com/when-do-you-find-time-to-write/

  5. Lily Frey

    I want to write an all tell book about myself and my “dynamic” haha….family. It’s unique and not like anything else you’ve heard, everyone says that, right, right ! I am getting to the point that it will come out, skeletons and all and someone, somewhere around the globe will be calling and leaving nasty messages. Do I care ? Not if it’s all true and nothing but the truth. I am older and will not be able to write soon, thinking gives me a headache anymore. All my life, I worry about what if this person won’t like me, my books, etc…..but you know what, if time……the time is “now” !

  6. Thato Marole

    I am screen writer… but this also very helpful..thank you for the tips…I see all can work…

  7. Writers Write

    Thank you for the feedback, Thato.

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