How to Find Time for Novel Writing

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Guest blog by Harvey Chapman

Novel writing takes time – and plenty of it. Okay, so it’s possible to write a novel in under a year, but more likely it will take you two or three years, or even longer. Put simply, the creative process just can’t be rushed.

I have always believed, though, that we can all somehow find the time to do things if want to do them badly enough. And for me – and hopefully for you, too – one of my main priorities is time for novel writing.

So how do you find the time for writing a novel?

And what are the best ways to make use of this time?

First up, it is much better to write in short but regular stints than long and irregular ones. So if you have only three or four hours per week to work on your novel, try to do it every single day for 30 or 40 minutes – rather than saving the whole lot for Sunday. Here is why…

  • If you write fiction every day, even for a very short period, it keeps whatever you are working on fresh in your mind – meaning you won’t have to spend very long getting “in the zone” again.
  • Daily stints of novel writing will keep your “creative writing muscle” in peak condition. Use it only on Sundays and it will turn weak and flabby. (And yes, it really does exist!)
  • Small doses of hard work are a lot more manageable and far less daunting than weekly marathons.

If you don’t have to work full time, you will have the luxury of choosing your own novel writing hours. If you do have to go out to earn a living, you must choose between writing fiction early in the morning or late at night.

Personally, I prefer the mornings. The agony of getting out of bed is over by the time you’ve brewed the coffee, and my mind is so much sharper then than late at night. But whatever works for you, of course, is best.

Whatever hours you do set aside for working on your novel, be disciplined enough to stick to them. Your book won’t write itself. Allow nothing less than an emergency to interfere with your writing time. And if you can’t escape from the usual daily distractions, find somewhere quiter to write.

Most importantly, when you sit down to work on your novel, work on it! Checking your e-mails doesn’t count. Nor does reorganizing your stationery drawer, or dusting your keyboard, or the 1001 other things we do when we are supposedly hard at it.

Of course, you don’t always have to be turning sheets of blank paper into pages of prose. You might spend your novel writing time creating a character, or typing up yesterday’s handwritten draft, or doing some research. Just make sure you work on some aspect of your novel for the full time.

With practice, both laziness and hard work can become habits.

Harvey Chapman is a published writer and a full-time teacher of creative writing. He founded his Novel Writing Web Site in early 2008 ( The Site offers free and expert advice on planning, writing and selling novels.

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