14 Ways to Find Time to Write: A Guide for Busy Parents

National Novel Writing Month is due to kick off again in November, when all budding novelists aim to write a 50,000 word book in 31 days.

Completing NaNoWriMo is tough, with the daily battle against eye strain, self discipline and the dreaded word count.

It can be hard to find the time to write even without distractions; however when you are a parent then NaNoWriMo may feel like a game you just aren’t going to win.

Whether you are wanting to write a book or sneak a bit of writing into your day, then here are some tips to help you find the time and keep the creative juices flowing.

Morning Bird Power-Hour

If you have a child who sleeps well into the morning (lucky you!) then you might be able to uncover some quiet, free time before they wake up. Set your alarm an hour early, grab a coffee, open up the laptop and go for a shot of 100 words.

Stay Up Late                         

If you are having a writing evening, completely shut everything else off. Dinner is cereal. Washing up is abandoned. Ignore it. It doesn’t need you. This is YOUR time. The deadline of bedtime can be adhered to, or ignored. Depends how well you can function the next day after pulling an all-nighter.

The Top 200

Write 200 words. Doesn’t matter what it’s about. The point is if you make a commitment that is achievable and after a while you will become more efficient with what you write in that period of time.

Don’t Edit

If your task is to write, just do that. Anything else is irrelevant to the task you are trying to achieve. Editing can weigh you down so free yourself from it.

…But if you have to edit…

Then make sure that the session is just for editing. You need to be strict and organised to ensure the task works out in the best possible way

Go Traditional

While the baby is happily and safely playing then grab a notepad and a pen and jot down ideas, start a story. If you have time later you can explore anything that came do you during the day.

Go Digital

I have an iPad yet always assumed writing on a tablet wouldn’t come naturally. And it didn’t for me. But after some practise it actually worked out really well. I downloaded the Office Word app to ensure I was familiar with the system. It seems more achievable to write the odd thing here or there while the little one plays, or I make up a bottle or prepare dinner. This is how I have managed to write a few short stories and blog posts.

Be Realistic, Rethink and Adjust

Goal paralysis, I get this a lot. I want to do so much, but end up doing nothing because I don’t know where to start.

Get real, you have a child. That fluidity of time you were so used to does not exist anymore. I wanted to blog, write fiction, finish my novel, freelance and start a diploma, while working part time, starting a business and looking after my little one. It was just too much. It doesn’t mean that you have to let go of everything. Just re-prioritise and focus on one thing at once.

Designate a Day

If like me you have too many irons in the fire and juggling just about anything you can get your hands on, then designate one day a week that is dedicated to your one writers goal. It doesn’t need to be a whole day. It can be a morning, afternoon, evening, 40 minutes. Just one day when at some point, you write.


Planning and preparing as a parent is a beast. The unpredictable nature of babies makes it impossible to plan and or even guess how much time you have available. Yet a plan will help, but keep it manageable, flexible and achievable.  Plan for your day and set it out in bitesize chunks. As I am looking after my boy today, my plan was to write a blog post during his nap time. So far, so good.


If you have a little one who is engrossed in a toy then use that time to write – even if it’s only for 10-15 minutes. I often feel consumed with guilt if I’m on the laptop and kiddo is playing. However if he is happy then why not use that time to get something done?

I always make sure if I have spent some time on the laptop, that the little one gets a massive chunk of play time with mummy afterwards. It makes them happy, you feel happy, and you can even chat through your story ideas. I find that babies are very good listeners!


I take my little one out for a long walk to clear my head and plan my afternoon. It can give your mind some breathing space and you also have the freedom to explore ideas that would probably be lost when changing nappies, making up bottles or running around trying to stop your baby exploring the dark and dangerous corners of your living room.

Quit Box Sets

Netflix, you were there during the newborn days of constant breastfeeding and recovering from a traumatic labour, and I shall never forget the support you gave me. But now we need distance. I am a writer darhling and need space. I shall see you at weekends, but our daily rendezvous is no more.

Be Kind to Yourself

Do not be hard on yourself and stop worrying about your perceived failures. Remember, you love writing and any time spent on it is a massive achievement. Now go get that brownie… did I mention that cake is a crucial part of a writers diet?

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  • meganbidmead

    This is helpful, thank you. I’d just about worked out fitting writing in around a toddler when we decided to have baby number two! Now trying to fit it in around a four year old and a ten month old … usually I have to wait til they are asleep at night! #anythinggoes

    • EmmaMc

      Same here! Three year old and a 10 month old and my time seems to have done a disappearing act! Late at night and early mornings tend to work for me! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • mummy2twindividuals

    You just have to squeeze every minute from the day. Finding time is hard going but if you want to do it, you will. #triumphanttales

    • EmmaMc

      Great idea! Although my handwriting is pretty awful so it’s pot luck whether I can read it or not! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Laura: Adventures with J

    Ah this is so useful! There is no way I could write that much in a month – I barely have time to get 3 blog posts out a week but your tips are very useful! I really need to embrace the iPad option as turning on the computer can seem too much effort. The problem with a toddler is as soon as you turn it on they want to play too mummy! #Anythinggoes

  • randommusings29

    I did my first #nano last year and I’m looking forward to this one. Due to work commitments, I ended up writing my 50,000 words over the last two days so I definitely plan to be more organised this time!
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes 🙂

  • mebeingmummy

    I needed to read this right now! Have spent the whole day writing and have goal paralysis too! I stupidly thought I could get everything completed and up to scratch in one day?! What was I thinking?! Little and often with baby steps. It’s the only way one can do it with babies in tow isn’t it? #AnythingGoes

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