The Book Mechanic
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The Book Mechanic

How to Create Writing Sessions Out of Thin Air

Even if you don’t have time — and we both know you have.

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

I don’t think lack of time exists.

Time is our most abundant and most precious resource. We have a lot of it — enough to waste it with pointless activities that bring no positive outcome. Those hours scrolling down our feeds on Instagram and Twitter, for instance.

But time management seems, sometimes, as an alien entity that only people with superpowers can tame. We look at our colleagues who would fit the label overachiever and ask ourselves what is the magic ingredient to their productivity. Some authors even accomplish over 9,000 words a day, 45,000 hours a week — and this seems an achievement even more monstrous than Stephen King’s alleged 2,000 words a day.

“I like to get ten pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words. That’s 180,000 words over a three-month span, a goodish length for a book — something in which the reader can get happily lost, if the tale is done well and stays fresh.”

Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

And yet, when we must deal with an inevitable (or just plainly boring) task, the excuse almost comes out by itself:

I don’t have time.

Of course you have.

If you claim that you don’t have time to write, well, bad news: you are spending your time reading this article instead of getting your writing done.

But fear not: this article is exactly about creating time out of thin air.

Because this is how I tell my friends I come up with time to write. I mean, I have a full-time job as an anesthesiologist; I have to keep myself updated about the medical news involving my work, and I still have — always — time to write. I gave a shot at NaNoWriMo last year, and I put down those 50,000 words on paper.

And I don’t do all this because I have a super power — far from that. Turns out I’m a pretty regular guy. It’s just that, throughout the years, I have learned how to accomplish multiple goals a day.

Med school was a catalyst, yes. I had to learn how to juggle different activities throughout the day if I wanted to pursue personal projects. But this doesn’t mean you need to be a doctor to be productive. In fact, many people from whom I learned these time management techniques possibly have never seen an open skull in their lives.

Well, I think not, at least.

So, throw away your excuses and get the ball rolling.

The 5 AM Club — but not exactly

Perhaps you have already heard of Robin Sharma’s The 5 AM Club. It advocates winning the day through its first hours — waking up at 5 AM and getting productive as a landmark for self-improvement.

The fact is: I just can’t wake up at 5 AM every day. Many times I try to, but I end up hitting the snooze button and getting myself another hour of sleep.

And this is fine. You don’t need to be a productivity hero to get these extra hours for your project. You don’t need to wake up 5 AM every day.

The key message here is to allocate a productivity session — half an hour, a whole hour — before you normally wake up, without this being too disruptive for your routine.

I normally have to go to work around 6:45 AM. This means I should wake up around 6:15 AM to get my morning chores done without doing it all in a desperate hurry. This way, it isn’t also an enormous deal for me to wake up at 5:45 AM instead of 6:15 AM. I will hardly feel more tired throughout the day because of 30 minutes.

And this is what I normally do: I wake up 30 minutes earlier to carry out writing goals. I won’t write an entire chapter in this time frame, but at least I can check my stats, read a Medium post or two, and do some editing regarding yesterday’s work.

The key message here is to allocate a productivity session — half an hour, a whole hour — before you normally wake up, without this being too disruptive for your routine.

If you don’t see how to fit a writing session in your daily drill, then try this out.

Writing first thing as you get home

When all goes well, and I don’t find myself stuck in an operation that is lasting longer than initially planned, I get home around 5 PM.

And when I reach home, it’s hard to think of a first thing to do. I’m tired because of the stressing hours at the hospital; I’m hungry; I need to check my e-mails and deal with tasks that have nothing to do with being a writer or an anesthesiologist. It’s easy to see that I can spend at least two hours doing all this.

And more often than not, it happened like this: I arrived home, took a shower, prepared my dinner, dealt with my adulthood e-mails, calls, and general boring stuff… and then I just wanted to get some sleep.

And I went to sleep, then, without having written a word.

But I created a mechanism to prevent this from happening.

Now, the first thing I do as I get home is writing. I aim for an one-hour session.

After I get my writing done, I go back to my daily tasks. I take a shower while thinking I have already done some progression on my projects.

Turns out it works.

Writing before bed — but taking it easy

Another precious occasion to get your writing done is before you go to bed.

Of course you are exhausted from your daily activities, and you don’t have the body nor the mind to shoot for a long and intense writing session lasting for hours. That’s fine. Just try to achieve something. Do some editing, or perhaps research material for tomorrow. Get in touch with people from your network if you haven’t done it today already.

If you want to assign a brief writing session for the evening, I suggest saving up the light stuff for then. I don’t recommend aiming for extraordinary cerebral activity in the hours before you crash out.

And if you don’t believe this is possible, or even if you don’t believe writing before going to sleep can accomplish concrete goals, then Neil Gaiman’s tweet might make you reconsider your thoughts:

Take notes throughout the day

This also means writing throughout the day.

If you don’t already bring a small notebook with you wherever you go, then please give your writing career a treat and do it.

You can also use your phone for that: some people use dictation apps to store their notes and thoughts.

What I do is to bring a Bluetooth wireless keyboard with me — whenever possible. This way, I can easily connect it on my phone and improvise a session wherever I am. It’s like a makeshift, portable writing desk.

So, try these techniques out and achieve more hours of writing per day.

Lastly, as we both know, you can’t create time out of thin air. It’s a white lie I had to tell you.

But when you do any of these approaches to time management, it sure feels like it.

You just read another exciting post from the Book Mechanic: the writer’s source for creating books that work and selling those books once they’re written.

If you’d like to read more stories just like this one tap here to visit




Down-and-dirty growth strategies for commercial writers and creators, with a blue collar work ethic, and a no-nonsense voice.

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Morton Newberry

Morton Newberry

Interactive fiction and horror writer based in Germany. Check out The Vampire Regent:

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