How I Find Time to Write

My writing desk

People are always asking me how I find time to write. To tell the truth, I haven't always been the ideal example of writing time management. Part of the reason is that I have six kids. It took me five years to write my first published novel. My second took two years. I'm getting faster, though, thanks to a few tricks I've learned. Here they are in a nutshell:

Avoid the Internet 
I write on a really old laptop. It has no internet access. Before I switched to the laptop, it seemed that every time I got stuck in a scene, I'd go check Facebook or my e-mail or my blog or something else.

I have an appointment every weekday with my laptop. I write in the morning before my kids get up. I also write at the library twice a week for a few hours.

Before I write, I try to figure out what's going to happen in the next scene. It's best if I brainstorm the next scene the day before I write it. This gives my mind a chance to work while I'm doing other things.

Stay Positive
It's a common problem among writers, even published writers, that a bad review or critique experience can kill the desire to write. Reviews are important, but I avoid reading each and every review. I have to focus first on how much I love to write. My objective is to write a book I'd want to read.

Write Horrible Drafts
I'm a perfectionist. I love editing and making my writing as perfect as possible. But if I try to write my first draft as perfectly as possible, it takes me forever. Instead, I force myself to write a lot, and some of my writing actually ends up being good. Later, I can delete what's terrible and keep what works. (In case you're wondering, my last two novels had at least twenty drafts.)

Write Down All Ideas Immediately
I keep a pad of paper and pen handy to write down ideas. Below is a picture of the pen I keep beside my bed at night. It lights up so I can write in the dark. I always carry paper in my purse, and if I know I'll have to wait somewhere for a long time, I bring my laptop.

Reading great books helps me to be a better writer, but it's hard to find the time to read as much as I'd like. Also, once I start a book, I have a hard time putting it down. My solution is to listen to audiobooks as I drive and work around the house. That way, I get in my reading time, and I look forward to doing the dishes.

How do you find time for the things you love to do?