Stealing Writing Time - Where to Find Time When You Don’t Have Any Extra

Stealing Time - Where to Find Time When You Don’t Have Any Extra

Guest Post by Marcie Flinchum Atkins

I know you can’t really steal time. In fact, if you could, I would steal it, put it in some big boxes up in my attic, then pull a little out on busy days.

My life consists of a full-time job, a husband, two small kids, and writing. I should give myself the job title of “round-the-clock juggler.” And I know I’m not alone.

Since writing is such an important part of my life, I have to find ways to make it priority without ignoring responsibilities. In an ideal world, I’d write 6 hours a day, uninterrupted. But since that isn’t going to happen in the foreseeable future, I improvise by stealing time where I can.

Waiting Time

Wait for the right time to steal. Instead of getting frustrated that the doctor is running 20 minutes late, you can be thankful for the bonus writing time, if you prepare ahead of time. No matter what your lot in life, I know you have waiting time—at doctor’s offices, pick-up times for kids’ practices, when you’re getting your hair colored. I always carry a bag with a current project. Sometimes it’s hard for me to get big chunks of writing time while I’m waiting. However, these are great times to edit or brainstorm.

Planning Time

Stealing doesn’t always involve the act itself. Sometimes you have to plan to steal. Since I spend some of my waking hours cooking, doing dishes, or cleaning (though I swear I do the bare minimum), sometimes those mundane tasks are good planning time. While it’s not always intentional, these are times I work out writing problems in my brain. That plot issue I can’t fix while staring at the computer screen will often occur to me while I’m chopping an onion.

Other people find walking or gardening good tasks that work the body and loosen the writing brain.

Then when you actually get screen time, you can pound out the problem.

Wee Hours

People don’t usually steal in broad daylight. I write best when the rest of the world is asleep, or at least the people in my little world are asleep. Some people are late night writers. I’m an early morning writer. Even an hour before the rest of the house gets up can provide me with prime writing time. An hour a day adds up.

Plan Your Escape

If you are going to steal, you have to have a getaway plan. While, you might not be able to escape very often, even once a month is great. Plan a time to go to a coffee shop or a local library for a few hours. But plan ahead. Know before you leave exactly what the task is at hand. If you don’t know, you are liable to surf the internet instead of tackling those chapter revisions.

Stealing time happens in small increments. If you can figure out a way to grab ten minutes here, half-hour there, a couple of hours on a weekend, then you will make progress in your writing. Don’t wait until you can steal a whole weekend for your writing. Start now—chipping away at the moments you can find in the life you already have. 

Marcie Flinchum Atkins steals time to write in between her day job and her life with her family. She has an M.A. and and M.F.A. in children’s literature from Hollins University and blogs about making time to write at:


Building a Writer’s Portfolio
Freelance Writing Work – The Possibilities
How to Write a Novel – Start with a Novel Outline


Magdalena Ball said...

Marcie, you are definitely not alone. I'm a juggler too and stealing time is critical. I take my little tablet with me everywhere and if I've got 5 mins in the car before picking up my daughter, I write. It's a matter of habit - brain gets in gear quickly if it knows that spare time is writing time.

Karen Cioffi said...

Juggling and trying to steal time is something most of us do. I bring something to read in the car or at appointments. If I know I'll be waiting somewhere for a long time, I'll bring my laptop and write.

Thanks for a great guest post, Marcie.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I don't see how most writers can both write and promote their writing (or their careers) without stealing time. This is a nice reminder. We can pat ourselves on the back now we know exactly what we're doing! (-:


Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Excited about how much the new edition of the Frugal Book Promoter (expanded! updated!) can help writers with the tried and true and the new media, too. Now a USA Book News award-winner in its own right ( it the original edition was also a Reader Views winner and an Irwin Award winner.

Marcie Flinchum Atkins said...

Awesome! I know many people who say they can't write in five minutes. Some of us don't have a choice. We just do it! I'm glad to know I'm not alone. :) Marcie

Marcie Flinchum Atkins said...

Thanks, Karen! :)


Marcie Flinchum Atkins said...

Thanks, Carolyn. So true. With so many things we have to do, stealing time is essential. Thanks for reading!


Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Great post. I steal writing time while waiting, but I agree with you about scheduling your time. I think the best way to "steal" writing time in your life is by scheduling it in.

Marcie Flinchum Atkins said...

Ah yes, waiting. I do a lot of waiting and I always make sure I have something to do. ALWAYS! Thanks for reading! Marcie

Anne Duguid Knol said...

Hi Marcie, I'm another time stealer--whether at the dentist or waiting for students or washing dishes...

Marcie Flinchum Atkins said...

Awesome, Annie. I have a good friend that says she is always thinking about the writing/plot problems when she'd doing other things. Then when she sits down to write, she's ready. Marcie

Linda Wilson said...

Hi Marcie, ditto on using extra waiting time, doing dishes, showering, etc. for writing and formulating ideas. One of my best tools is sewing. For some reason the minute my needle touches cloth my imagination comes out to play.

Marcie Flinchum Atkins said...

Hi Linda,
I'm the same way with cooking. Somehow cutting up an onion just loosens up things that are stuck. I have a lot of writer friends that sew, knit, and crochet. It must work!! :)


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