10 Minute Interview: How I make time for writing

June 24, 2008 | 8 comments

Kathy Grubb, homeschooling mom of five children ages ten and under and author of the 10 Minute Writer blog emailed me with an intriguing proposition:

I would like to feature writers who have mastered, or at least are attempting to master, squeezing in writing around their life. My plan is to give you one question only, require you to write your answer in ten minutes’ time.

A ten minute interview? What could be easier? I was more than happy to oblige. Here was her question:

Q: How do you make time in your day to pursue writing?

My computer clock says 3:03. Here we go…

There are three main things I do that help me make time in my busy days of having three kids ages three and under. They are:

  1. I think about the subject matter ahead of time: Each morning, I decide whether or not I’m going to write something today. If I decide that I’m going to, I choose a topic so that I can be thinking about it as I go through my day. (For example, I got Kathy’s email a few hours ago and have been thinking about my answer in my occasional down moments like when I change the laundry, put dishes in the dishwasher, clear the table, etc.) That way, when I sit down to write, it doesn’t take long to just put my thoughts down on paper.
  2. I arrange the kids’ schedules so that I have at least some time to myself each day: The amount of time that I can get to myself fluctuates by the ages of my children, but I so desperately need at least a little bit of quiet time to myself each day (especially since my husband works 12-hour days) that I arrange our entire lives around the kids all taking naps at the same time. On the rare occasions that that doesn’t happen, I’ll go ahead and let whoever is up watch a TV show so that I can get at least get those 30 minutes to be somewhat off-duty.
  3. I’ve made writing a high priority: I’ve talked about this with my husband a lot, and we’ve decided as a family that it’s worth prioritizing my writing time pretty high, even if it means sacrificing some other things I could be doing with my down time. Writing has borne such great fruits in my life — it makes me feel relaxed, it’s the best stress-reliever I’ve ever found, and I’m even making a tiny bit of money at it now — so it’s worth it to us to make sure that I get regular time to do that. That means that there are things that I’m not as on top of, e.g. I’m perpetually behind on Quicken data entry and email, but the benefits far outweigh the tradeoffs.

My computer clock now says 3:14. One minute over! (I normally would take probably another 5 minutes to go through and edit my answer, so please pardon any incoherent parts.)

Check out the 10 Minute Writer for more great tips about fitting writing into your busy life!


  1. Anonymous

    I thought you might enjoy this. I found it in the Little Brown Book of Anecdotes for the writer Rex Stout, creator of fictional detective Nero Wolfe.

    “Stout was surrounded by books from an early age. His father had a personal library of over a thousand volumes, and his mother, Lucetta, was constantly engrossed in one book or another. Although she had nine children, her reading was rarely interrupted-thanks to a simple expedient. She kept a bowl of cold water and a washcloth beside her chair: any child who dared to disturb her would have his or her face thoroughly washed.”

    I love you writing!


  2. chickadee

    i do the same thing: think about the subject ahead of time. if all goes well i’ll have what i want to say all planned out in my mind before i put my fingers to the keyboard. it goes better that way.

  3. La gallina

    I would just like to know: How do you get all three kids to take a nap at the same time?! Maybe I shouldn’t ask that. I wouldn’t want to start a parenting philosophy brawl.

  4. Lerin

    Writing and reading with kiddos is definitely difficult, but my husband and I agree that it is okay to place a high priority on that for me too! I need to write like he needs to breathe. 🙂

  5. reprehriestless warillever

    I have wanted to ask you this same question for a while. I was hoping that you would have some pearls of wisdom that would help me set aside time for writing.

    What I really learned is that your words just come out a whole lot more polished than my do!

    Actually, I did benefit from your first point about deciding what you want to write about in the morning. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

  6. Gaynor

    Hi Jen, I have been enjoying your blog for while now and yours is one of those that has encouraged me to start my own. I am inspired by your quest to live your life directed by the Holy Spirit amidst the ordinary chaos of family life! I wanted to let you know that I have put a link in to this post on my blog today, in case you’d like to take a look!
    Thanks for writing

  7. Gaynor

    Sorry – have I posted the same comment twice? I thought I’d lost it but I’ve just seen the banner about not being visible until after blog owned approval – now I feel silly!! 🙂 Please delete this and the duplicate if I have!!!

  8. The Koala Bear Writer

    I’m struggling to find time to write when I just have one baby, so this answer from you with three is encouraging! Thinking ahead is probably the best strategy. And just making it a priority (don’t remind me of the dishes by the sink… I’m writing!).

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