A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

Finding Time to Write

Night SkyOutside, the only light in the darkness comes from the dim flicker of stars. Inside, I fumble along the landing with nothing but the orange glow of a single nightlight to guide me. Riker, the slightly congested tabby cat, snores softly. The children toss and turn in their beds. It is ridiculously early. Even the cockerel in the church-town hasn’t started crowing yet. I stumble wearily downstairs into the kitchen and fire up the kettle. Three minutes later, I’m in my office with a steaming mug of tea and a glimmering blank page on my computer screen. It’s 5 a.m. Time to write.

This week on the blog we’re talking about how we fit writing into our lives. The answer is the same for all of us: we make time to write. And it isn’t always easy. When I began my first novel, After Eden, I was working full-time as a teacher. When I came home from work, I had to make dinner for the family, help the children with their homework, throw some laundry in the machine and then settle down for an evening of marking books. All the sorts of things most working mothers have to do.

I’d always loved writing and dreamt of ‘one day’ having enough time to complete a book. Eventually, I realised that ‘one day’ might never come. If I was going to make my dream come true I needed to make it happen. So, I took a long hard look at my schedule and realised that if I was going to do this, I’d have to get up before work to write. And so I did. Five o’clock to six thirty every morning until it was done.

Two books later, I still work almost full-time.  I have some half days which means I occasionally get to write during daylight, but most of my writing is still done in the dark pre-dawn hours. (And I’m not being smug about this – forcing myself to get up at 5 am is still as hard now as it was the first time!)

Lots of people tell me they’d like to write a book if they had the time. I understand this. We’re all busy. There are never enough hours in the day. But if you really want to do something, you can make the time.  Now, my life would be perfect if I could just find the time to go to the gym . . .

helenHelen Douglas is the author of After Eden (Bloomsbury, 2013) and Chasing Stars (Bloomsbury 2014).

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About helendouglas

Author of books for young adults. After Eden (Bloomsbury 2013) and Chasing Stars (Bloomsbury UK 2014 / Bloomsbury US July 2016)

8 comments on “Finding Time to Write

  1. dansmithsbooks
    January 10, 2014

    The 5am start. Hmm. Winter’s always the worst time for it and getting up is hard but productivity seems to be pretty good in that half-asleep phase. I’m lucky enough to be a full time writer, but the 5am start is still not uncommon for me. Sometimes deadlines are just too tight . . .

  2. Abi Burlingham
    January 10, 2014

    Huuuge admiration for you, Helen. I’ve tried, and failed, at the early morning stint, so I settle for later in the evening when all is quiet… it’s just another sort of darkness!

  3. helendouglas
    January 10, 2014

    There is definitely something to be said for not being fully conscious!

  4. helendouglas
    January 10, 2014

    I’m not an evening person. I wish I could work late but my brain switches off around 8 o’clock!

  5. emmapass
    January 10, 2014

    Great post, Helen! I work almost full time too and have found a similar solution to finding time to write. I find my brain works best first thing, before it gets cluttered up with the day’s thoughts and worries, so it works well for me… as long as I have a LARGE pot of coffee to hand!

  6. Sue Hyams
    January 11, 2014

    5am! This makes me realise I can so easily fit more writing time in, though perhaps not at 5am. Thank you!

  7. orthodoxmom3
    January 11, 2014

    I’ve been getting up earlier but not quite 5 yet… so, if you don’t mind me asking, how much sleep do you actually get?

  8. helendouglas
    January 11, 2014

    I go to bed early. I’m usually in bed by 10 pm. I need my sleep.

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