Who has time for writing?

I’ve been finding is so hard to write anything at all lately, mainly because I have so many things going on. I have until September to come up with 15,000 of delightful novel words to submit for my dissertation and yet each time I write I seem to get to a dead end. I know that writer’s need to find time to fit writing in to their lives but I do find it hard to be creative without time to slow down and breath. How do people find time to fit writing in to their lives AND do other things?


As well as silly things going on, such as my birthday, which of course I needed to stop and celebrate, and working 10 days in a row, I’ve also got important things that I need to make space for. I’m attempting to move house in a week, so I have to rush the paper work through, as well as urgently running around viewing houses to move in to. I started a new job with Litfest in May, my main role of which is creating their annual literature festival in October. Great opportunity, great work, great colleagues, but completely mind consuming. I find myself dreaming of things I need to do or what I can add to the festival which I haven’t already thought of. As well as that, I work a second job at a football club who are currently hosting endless concerts and renewing their seasoncards, I edit for The Cadaverine, I still attempt to co-run Bad Language and I’ve committed to a small feedback group with my MA students to edit our dissertations. I’m not complaining, I’m just finding it hard to fit space in my head to think about my own writing between all of that. When I do have a day off, I find I want to curl up and let my mind breath instead of settling down and being creative.


On my last day off, me and Dan from the Bad Language crew attended the Manchester Independent Book Markets where we held an independent stall and performed on their literature stage. It rained all day but we met great people and sold a few of Bad Language anthologies. I read a piece call The Private Collection on the stage, which you can download in the e-book The Hat You Wear which showcases all the readers from the Manchester Independent Book Market. Here was our lovely stall, you may have passed us if you were out and about in Manchester that day:



My attempts at creating a writing environment/ possibly just creating distractions include; re-organising my twitter lists, writing this blog, running, reading all the short story books I’ve been meaning to for ages and snuggling up to these creatures ( I wish I could say it also includes cleaning):



I guess the best thing you can do when you’re struggling to write is to read read read as much as you can. I’ve been trying to find a novel which fits the sort of novel I want to create but I’m struggling to find something that I haven’t already read which pushes my buttons. I’m currently reading A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore. I love her wit, I adored Anagrams which is why I chose to read this novel, but I find the prose quite heavy with distracting details. I’m enjoying the main story line about a girl who takes a job as a nanny to an unborn child, and is forced to visit the birth parents with the woman who is looking to adopt the child, that’s quite an unexpected story-line, but I like prose that’s focused and I find myself day-dreaming as the narrative disappears into distracting but witty details.


I think another reason I may be struggling is that the idea of writing a novel is so huge I’m finding it hard to tackle. I tend to write without a plan but from a sense of urgency of where the story is heading and I work in creating tension towards something, but in a novel you can’t hold the tension for that long. The story line is too long to focus it all towards the ending. I guess that all come’s in experience and practice, but how does everyone else manage to tackle it?


In other exciting news, me and Dan from Bad Language along with the Mr Fat Roland will be reading at The Imploding Inevitable Festival on the 30th June and you can buy your tickets here.

I’ll leave you with The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better than You Normally Do on McSweeney’s, which has been helpful in keeping me thinking about writing.


Also, the thought of being surrounded in piles of these…










About Nici West

Nici West currently lives in Manchester with her boyfriend and her two punk rocker guinea pigs. She recently graduated from Manchester University with an MA in Creative Writing and spends her time writing and working on writing projects. She wishes there were more guinea pigs in her life.
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6 Responses to Who has time for writing?

  1. I know how you feel, having to try and juggle a lot of things and still find time to write. I’m not quite as busy as you (I don’t think anyone’s quite as busy as you!), but I do have a lot going on, and fitting in all the writing can definitely be tough. Especially when you have a deadline to meet. You feel that you need to sit down and be working on it, but then writer’s block happens and it all goes wrong. I always walk away from work that I’m stuck on and leave it alone whilst my subconscious sorts through everything. I usually leave it a couple of days longer than I actually need to, so that not only do I know when I go back that I ‘get it’ again, but also that I am desperate to be writing it again, ensuring a good productive session working on whatever it is.

    With novel writing, I find the key was in training myself to not really think about it very hard. I often think of the writing process as like sculpting, and the first draft is just throwing a huge lump of clay onto the table/plinth/the back of a horse you’ve persuaded to stay very still. It’s in subsequent drafts in which you begin to shape and hone the raw material into the finished product. Draft 1 is just for getting all the words out, so it’s OK if it’s rubbish. You can always edit it later, so just write like mad and worry about how bad it is when you have to come back to it in the redrafting/editing stage.

    • Nici West says:

      Thanks for the advice – I think I panic too often that I’m leaving it alone for too long and that I’ll never go back to it. I think you’re right about the key being not to over think things and just to blast out the first draft, it’s just hard sometimes to get in to that first draft zone! Perhaps I’ll try leaving it for a bit longer as you suggest and maybe words will come.

  2. hannahkarena says:

    I’ve been struggling to work more writing time into my life recently too. I realized that I THOUGHT I was spending a lot of time writing every week, but I really wasn’t. I blamed moving into a new place, not having the perfect desk, the perfect organized writing environment, and unpaid bills and kept procrastinating by getting all those things in order (it’s taken me about four months) before FINALLY setting up an official writing schedule this past week.

    Also, I read the best article this week about how to get unstuck and be super productive with your writing. How to go from writing 2,000 words to 10,000 words in a day. Might help you! http://www.sfwa.org/2011/12/guest-post-how-i-went-from-writing-2000-words-a-day-to-10000-words-a-day/

  3. ABCordellion says:

    Wow – those guinea pigs really are rock n roll! I have a friend from Peru – some advice: don’t let Peruvians near your rockstars, they eat them! 😮

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