Answering the question: When do you find time to write?

I just got this question from a new writer who noted that errands take up a lot of time that should be devoted to writing. She wrote:

How do you manage your writing process (do you have set hours or a word count to reach each day)? How do you keep yourself accountable to getting the work done (spreadsheets? an accountability partner)? Has any of that changed now that your kids are older? How do you balance novel creating time with your other tasks, like editing, marketing, blogging, attending events, etc?

The short answer is: not well. I write really slowly. While other people are banging out two thousand words in an hour, I’ll get that much done in eight hours. So how do I find time to write? Here’s the long answer:

When my children were little I had specific times that I wrote. Namely when the kids were napping, when the kids had a favorite show on TV that would keep them occupied for an hour, playdates, and preschool.  I wrote during soccer games and ballet lessons. I wrote while nursing babies. I wrote whenever I could. One page a day adds up

You’re right that errands take up a lot of time. And when the kids get home from school you’re busy with them. I try not to schedule any errands on Mondays so that it can be a dedicated block of writing. Then I try and have a day or two in the week that is also dedicated to writing and I run errands on two days a week. Very often errands take more time than two days. (And I have found, alas, that no matter how much I wish for it, the house doesn’t clean itself. Or paint itself.)

Kids have dentist appointments and doctors appointments and orthodontics appointments. Friends need help and church members need help. Am I ever going to tell a friend in need that I’m too busy to help them because I have to write fiction? Some writers do, but it seems wrong to me. Which is why a lot of my writing time gets done after 10 pm. No one calls to ask you to do things then. It’s hard to run errands–although, I have been known to go to the 24 hour Walmart. (Note: working late is only effective when your kids are young. When they’re older, they will indeed call to talk to you at midnight because they know you’re up.)

This nighttime schedule has only worked because my husband has been willing to help get kids off to school in the morning. I’ve told people on occasion that I’ll never leave my husband because he drives the carpool. I’m only half joking. Driving the carpool makes up for a myriad of sins in the romance department.

I’ve found that on some days, my older or married children still need a lot of my time. So the mom job never really ends. (Sometimes I feel like I’m my son’s unpaid personal assistant.)

As I write this blog on finding time to write, I’m planning to take a repositioning cruise that will last 14 days. The reason I’m taking it is that I will have no errands, no cooking, no cleaning, and no one will ask me for anything. I won’t even have internet–just days of uninterrupted writing time.  I’m hoping to get a huge chunk of Slayers 5 done.

So what I’m saying is that if I need to pay a lot of money and hide out on a boat in the middle of the ocean for two weeks in order to get writing done,’m not the best at finding balance.

I’m not sure that answer helps you much. In fact, right now you may be weeping. I am a little on the inside too…


  1. Tiana Smith
    October 25, 2018 at 9:28 am

    This is me too. I have to find time whenever I have it. Then I have to reeeeeally focus during that time and not let any other distractions in. (I’ve installed Freedom on my computer to block out everything that might tempt me away from writing. Because I have no self control). Have fun on your trip!

  2. Janette Rallison
    October 25, 2018 at 11:10 am

    Hopefully it will be productive. It seems that when I’m not writing I don’t want to start, and when I start writing, I don’t want to stop. Pretty much the same way I feel about sleep…

  3. Unazaki
    October 28, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Hows the screenwriting coming along? ^^

    • Janette Rallison
      October 30, 2018 at 5:16 am

      One is ready to send out to the world. (Just One Wish) One my agent has and will send it to a Hollywood insider to get his opinion on it. (All’s Fair in Love, War, and High School) I just finished revisions on My Fair Godmother and I will shortly send it to the producer who asked for it. Scripts are supposed to be between 90-120 pages. It’s 118. I’m afraid he’s going to tell me to cut it down.) And just today I got the last set of critiques of My Fair Lacey from my beta readers, so it has one more set of revisions before I send it to my agent.
      And then–dragons!
      At least until somebody tells me to work on the screenplays again.

      • Unazaki
        November 1, 2018 at 10:34 am

        Are there any plans to adapt your Slayers series into a tv series or movie?

        • Robert G Rallison
          November 2, 2018 at 5:46 am

          The thing I have learned about series adaptations is that usually they come from Insiders. Meaning they want the writers to have experience on other shows before they’re willing to look at it TV series proposal.
          So as things are right now either someone in that position would have to become interested in the book or I would have to make different friends in Hollywood. Either could happen, but probably not anytime soon.

  4. Vivian
    October 29, 2018 at 2:02 am

    My teenage daughter started your Slayers & Echoes in Time series years ago, but I’m a new fan to your romantic comedies. How I Met Your Brother and My Double Life are my favorites!

    I came to your site to see if I could find out what you’re working on next, hoping for another rom com, but clearly your plate is full. I just wanted to share with you some words of encouragement. Of course your fans wish you could produce a new book per day, but if it takes time for you to create the delightful stories that you do, then it is worth whatever amount of time needed! You have blessed my life with some much needed laughter, and I will be praying for God to bless you in turn!

    • Janette Rallison
      October 30, 2018 at 5:09 am

      Thanks! Really. Your comment made my day. (Especially since I’d planned on starting back on Slayers today but just got revisions for the My Fair Lacey screenplay. Dragons will have to wait for a couple of days.)

  5. April
    October 31, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    Thank you for your honesty! And enjoy the cruise! I hope it’s a fruitful time for you.

  6. Jen
    December 30, 2018 at 10:34 pm

    I miss reading the blog and new novels, but can’t wait to see a movie!!

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