“I don’t have time to write.”

Let’s face it. That line is an excuse. I’m guilty of saying it, and I’m pretty darn sure that you are too.

As a writer I’ve definitely struggled to find time to write. Juggling work, classes, volunteering, more classes, family, friends, church – and may I add, Los Angeles traffic – I find myself driving home and thinking of all the great ideas I can’t wait to work on as soon as I get home. But of course, as soon as I sit down in front of my laptop, my ideas are miles away. Before I know it, I wake up the next morning to a screen of incoherent words or 100+ empty pages, having fallen asleep with my faced glued to the spacebar.

I can’t say that I don’t have those nights anymore, and I’m not claiming to be a writing-guru. But as someone who is serious about writing, I had to find a way to make it work despite all the forces working against me. Below are some ways I found to get pages written each and every week. If they work for me, they can work for you too!

1) Choose a date and time to write – and stick with it.

It doesn’t have to be the same every week. In fact, I like to choose my weekly writing days at the beginning of each week. When Sunday evening rolls around, I whip out my calendar and see what I have planned that week. I then write in something like “PWT from 7-8PM” (which stands for Phoebe’s Writing Time) and plan out what day/time works best for me. If you prefer to write first thing in the morning or right before you go to sleep, that’s not a problem. Just figure out what works best for you, and then go for it.

2) Find a writing buddy or group.

The good thing about writing classes is that it makes you accountable – you HAVE TO turn in pages each week. I find it’s helpful to have a friend I can call just to get together and write. My writing buddy knows me well and she knows to check over my shoulder to make sure I’m not on Facebook or watching Youtube videos. She’ll even yell at me when I tell her I haven’t started writing yet. But it’s all in good fun and I appreciate her keeping me in check. Figure out what kind of accountability you need – and don’t be afraid to ask a classmate or writing friend for help. I bet they’ll be happy you did.

3) Quiet the critical voice in your head.

Your work may be terrible. Your storyline may not work. Your characters may lack depth. These are all things your inner-voice will tell you. It’s great when you are honest with yourself and admit to necessary edits as you’re rewriting. But when you’re trying to let your creative juices flow and get into a writing groove, your critical voice may keep you from actually writing. I encourage you to allow yourself to write terribly. Who knows? You might hit gold in the last few paragraphs or pages, and if it takes several pages of terrible writing to get there, it’s worth it.

Of course there are hundreds of other writing tips and strategies, many of which are just a google-search away. You can even click here and here for writing tips from Writers’ Program instructors. The truth is though, that you have 24 hours in a day, and 168 hours in a week. You can choose to spend that time thinking about what you’re going to write, or you can actually write.

It’s up to you.

Phoebe Lim is the Program Assistant for Creative Writing (Online) and Events. She is currently working on a TV Pilot and a Comedy Spec Script. Contact her at 310-825-0107 or plim@uclaextension.edu.

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