Be Sneaky About Your Writing


Are you a bit devious when it comes to your writing habits?  Have you mastered the art of writing while you’re doing other work?  Are you good at being sneaky?  Does my boss read this blog?

While it might not be the best idea to be too sneaky when it comes to writing on other peoples’ time, it’s not the worst idea to bring a bit of sneakiness into your writing.

I’m not talking about nodding your head during a PowerPoint presentation about sexual harassment while writing some bizarre love scene in your book that’s making your cheeks red.  I’m also not talking about sitting in a conference room pretending to do work while trying to finish an exciting chapter about a high speed car chase that crashes through the first floor of an office building and ends the work day.

But I am talking about being sneaky – being sneaky and greedy about your writing time.  While I’m a big advocate of getting into a routine to stay productive, I also think that changing up your habits can be a powerful tool.

In my last post I mentioned that the arrival of spring has been a huge distraction for me and has started eating into the time I usually reserve for writing.  Writing from 7-8 has been replaced by a big dinner with friends or a baseball game, and writing from 10-11 has been replaced by a beer on the roof.  The old habits of sitting down for an hour are starting to get harder, and something has to change.

So I started to steal time back from my day.  Is it a long term solution?  Maybe not – but the more I think about it the more I realize that it just might be.

It’s about building new habits.  Habits that don’t have to fully replace your old ones, but can cover for you on days where you miss your scheduled writing.  And on days that you do get your writing in, they’ll be a great way to supplement that time.

Because writing for 20 minutes at a time isn’t mentally draining.  Not like writing for two hours is.

So how do you steal time back from your day?

I take the metro to and from work – it’s only ten minutes each way so I never really thought to use it on something productive.  Before, I used to sit on the train with headphones in and stare at the wall daydreaming, but now I have 20 extra minutes every day to write, and sometimes knowing I only have ten minutes at a time can make me twice as productive.  I bring my computer to and from work anyway, so it’s easy.  If you don’t want to bring your computer you can bring a notepad, iPad, smartphone, or anything else you might want to use.

If I get to work ten minutes early I write instead of wait around.  I get an hour for lunch and only eat for forty minutes, so that’s an extra twenty minutes.  If I shower but my friends don’t get to my apartment for another fifteen minutes, that’s extra time to write.  When I add all the time up, I’ve been averaging an extra hour a day of writing, which is a ton of time to be productive.  And you don’t even have to use every single opportunity –using just half of them is still 30 minutes.

So be sneaky about your writing habits.  Steal the time back from your day.  Break up your writing sessions to make them less mentally taxing.

At the end of the week you’ll have seven hours worth of great writing to be proud of – or seven hours worth of terrible writing burning in the fireplace.  Who knows?   Either way, it’s worth a shot.

Are you a bit devious when it comes to your writing habits?  Do you find small amounts of time during the day to sneak in a few words/paragraphs/pages?  What creative ways have you found to steal some time for writing?

15 comments on “Be Sneaky About Your Writing”

  1. Since becoming a mother, I have had to steal time for my writing on a daily basis. It is such a challenge–but a good one! I have managed to write through my son’s first year, and I plan to keep writing and write even more in this next year!

  2. I remember when I was 15 and working in a catering business. I wrote while preparing some of the orders. Whenever our supervisor came in to check, I shove the papers under the stove so she would not see. I even punched holes in a pizza dough with a fork in a form of a letter. Sometimes words before I put them in the oven. Crazy I was.

  3. I have a friend who has a long commute to school (one hour by bus). Much like you, she has no trouble whipping out her laptop and writing during her commute. (A good pair of noise-cancelling headphones helps immensely.) I’m not nearly un-self-conscious enough to use my laptop on the city bus, but I do often do often take notes in my notepad while I travel.

  4. Hey thanks for this! 🙂 This post was very inspiring for me, because I’ve been trying to force myself to prioritize and set time aside for writing. You are definitely right…using some down time I have will certainly be helpful!

  5. I talked to a delivery truck driver who writes on his phone during stops. That’s dedication. Writing is the only thing I can’t multitask. I need big chunks of time, so I carve them out and protect them like a she bear. Everything else I have to do I stuff into the 5, 10, and 20 minute slots I scrounge up here and there.

  6. I have to steal minutes here and there all day long. It’s amazing how much you can get done in several five-minute writing spurts!

  7. In line at Starbucks, before I start the car to head home, waiting on a funeral mass to begin, and any other time something happens to strike me. I may not get a real piece out of this writing, but I often get some great running starts at them…and a few great lines!

  8. Thank you for liking my post,” A Fact of Life” today. I’ have just begun reading yours but I do like what I am reading. some great ideas. I don’t really have to steal time for my writing as I am more of an, when the inspiration hits, just do it, type of person. Since my husband and I are both retired, I am able to do that. I do keep a journal with me at all times, for one never knows when or where that inspiration will come. Thanks again. Have a great day.

  9. Hi David, thank you for liking my post ‘Golly, What a Day’. In other writers’ eyes, I am lucky because I am retired. I don’t have to ‘steal writing time’ away from my boss or my working day. However, my husband says my writing is a waste of my time, so I am sneaky about when and how I write. I wait until he is busy or gone out and then I set to. So even a retired writer has his/her problems fitting in the writing.

    1. Writing is definitely not a waste of your time, I’m glad you still manage to keep at it! I guess we all have to find what works in our individual lives.

  10. I tend to fill that gap in between me running downstairs for the laundry and the laundry actually being ready with a quick thought trail, some nice little rhymes have come out of that! Love the way you reinforce the message; thank you for the gentle nudge in the right direction <3

    1. Thanks! I really like that term, “thought trail”. I’m glad you’re finding time to sneak in some writing. P.S. I hate laundry -_- haha

  11. One year I committed to Nannowrimore and everyday I came home from work and began to write. I was committed to minimum of 500 words and found I wrote pages. It was amazing. Being disciplined, directly in the flow I wrote and it wasn’t until I finished that I went back to edit and re-read.
    I highly recommend the experience.
    Yotaki Beautywalk

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