Finding time to write in a crazy world – James D. Shipman

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By James D. Shipman

I’m a full-time attorney and mediator and I run my own small business. I also am married to a wonderful woman and we have seven (yes that’s an actual number!) children and stepchildren between us. I’m asked the question again and again how I’m able to find time to do anything, let alone write books. I’ll try to share some thoughts on that topic. ♥

Life definitely clobbers me over the head at every opportunity. We are busy every day with work, kids events, meals, cleaning up, etc. One of the ways I have carved out time to write is just looking for the little cracks here and there. For example, I have a daughter who plays soccer and a son who plays baseball. Both of them have to arrive at least forty-five minutes before their games. I bring my laptop with me and spend that time writing. I’m able to write sometimes as much as a thousand words during that pre-game time. Otherwise I would just be standing on the sidelines or maybe running for some coffee. A thousand words is one percent of an average sized novel.

I also devote time at least a few times a week during the evenings. Many of us, if we are entirely honest with ourselves, spend a few hours in the evenings watching television or scrolling through Facebook. We all need some downtime at night but I try to set my timer for a half hour or so and knock out a little writing. Again, I can at least produce five hundred words in that time and sometimes when I get rolling I keep going and before I know it I’ve produced an entire scene, which for me runs about seventeen hundred words. The hardest part is always getting started, because whether I’ve set the goal to write or not, it’s always hard to actually sit down and get going.

Going Home_300dpiWork time also affords a little extra space for writing. I have quite a bit of control over my work schedule so I’m able to parse out a little time here and there for writing. However, even if you are on a set schedule you will have breaks and lunches. With a half hour lunch break there may be time to eat and then spend fifteen minutes a few times a week writing. That might not seem like much but if you write 250 words three times a week at work then in three months you could write ten percent of an entire novel, just from a little time at lunch.

Finally I take writing vacations. Again, if you only have limited time off you can only take this so far. I take a full week a couple times a year to write. I will sometimes stay at home or I will book a little trip. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive. I’m just looking for a change of scenery and a place to write. It’s fairly easy to write five thousand words a day during such a trip. That means at least twenty five thousand words or a quarter of a novel. Even if you have limited time to get away you could schedule a Monday and Friday off, along with an empty weekend. At five thousand words that’s twenty percent of a novel.

At the end of the day it’s all about finding the tiny cracks of time in life and plugging them up with writing. I would never want anyone to take significant time away from their partners or children. Instead, it’s about finding a little slice of time here and there and working on something that I love. I hope this helps anyone out there who wants to write but doesn’t feel they have the time. My best advice for you is start writing today, one sliver at a time. You can do it and you can make your dreams come true.


James D. Shipman was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. While earning a degree in history from the University of Washington and a law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law, he began publishing short stories and poems; he also completed his first novel during that time. He opened his own law firm in 2004 and is still a practising attorney. He has served as a superior court judge and commissioner pro tem as well as an arbitrator in hundreds of legal cases. Constantinopolis, his first published novel, blends his love of history and writing. An avid reader, especially of historical nonfiction, he enjoys traveling and spending time with his family.

james-shipman.com

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