As Hannibal Lecter once said, "This is all the time we'll ever have" (Silence of the Lambs), and within that time constraint, writers have a lot to do.
For most of us, writing is a hobby, or at best a second job. We might dream of one day living off of royalties, but the current reality is that we have day real jobs that take up 8+ hours of our lives at least 5 days a week. That's nearly a quarter of your week gone, without any chance to write (unless you are the sort of person willing to spend your break time writing rather than talking to friends and coworkers or updating your Instagram. Another quarter to third of your week is going to go to be lost to sleep. Now, sleep is vital and important, and you might have dreams that give you ideas for your writing, but it isn't actually writing. So what's left?
Half a week.
Work and sleep eat up half of our weekly hours, assuming you only work 8 hours a day and sleep for slightly less than six hours a night, including weekends. And while half a week seems like a lot of time, remember that it isn't all at once. You get a free hour here, another couple there, in which to fit cooking, cleaning, shopping, family, and friends.
Some writers are incredibly dedicated. They put in an hour, maybe two, every. Single. Day. Rain or shine, work or no work, they sit at their computers (or hunched over a notebook), working furiously to get words down. But for us mere mortals, after 8 hours at work, a 30 minute commute, and cooking dinner, mindless Netflix binging can be a lot more tempting than trying to think of how to advance your plot, or chip through that writer's block, or how to turn that last passage into show and not tell.
And we need to go to the gym to try to avoid the dreaded Writer's Butt™. And walk the dog (or try to entice the cat into believing it loves us for a few minutes). We should probably spend some time with our family, and remember that we have friends that don't exist only in our minds and in our books.
So how do we make the time?
No, seriously, I'm asking you. I'm trying something new, but so far it has only been in place for a week, and that really isn't enough time to see whether or not the new strategy is working or I just have a lot of creative juices at the moment, but I'll tell you what I'm doing anyway so you can try it for yourself.
I'm a Netflix binger. Sometimes I'll spice it up with Amazon Prime or one of the seasons of TV I purchased before I became a Netflix and Prime subscriber, but no matter the medium, I can happily sit for hours watching a season (or more) of a show. I've even come to a place in my life where Netflix's judgmental "Are you still watching?" after 3 episodes fills me with equal parts shame and pride, rather than just shame.
I would watch as many shows as I wanted, but after every show, I had to spend 17 minutes writing.
17 minutes? Isn't that a weird length of time? Why not 15? Or 20?
Well, as every true binger knows, a show that airs for an hour on TV typically only runs for 42-43 minutes on Netflix or Prime. So I decided to round out each hour with writing. I get to the end of the episode, and rather than letting Netflix immediately start the next one, I pause the Blu Ray, set a timer, and write for 17 minutes. This means if I watch 4 episodes a night, I'm writing for over an hour!
Now, that's still four hours of my life spent sitting around, and 3/4 of that time not being productive, but an hour of writing a night isn't bad. And I often end up writing for longer than my 17 minutes. Or, after those 17 minutes, I will allow myself to move on to the marketing part of being a writer: social media, update website, write blog, hunt for promotional deals, manically update the sales pages to see how many people have purchased my book while I've been sitting on my Writer's Butt™.
Is this the solution to all time-management woes? Of course not. Will it help me on days I wasn't going to devote myself to binge-watching? Nope. Do I have any advice for those of you who have little kids or active social lives? None at all, unless you know how to pause those kids/social lives for 17 minutes at a time.
But maybe you can find the equivalent of this in your own lives. A way to fit short bursts of writing in between your normal activities. Maybe write while you're cooking, or between loads of laundry. Maybe mop yourself into a writing corner and write until the floor is dry.
Maybe learn actual time management skills rather than listen to me talk about how to fit writing into what might be considered by some a Netflix addiction.
Whatever route you choose to go, remember one thing: Writer's write.