In an ideal world, you’d have many more hours to dedicate to writing.

In reality, you carve out what meager “free time” you can, sacrificing things like sleep, a social life, exercise, a clean house, and quality time with friends and family. When your laundry pile resembles a laundry mountain and you haven’t hit the gym in a month, it’s hard to justify spending extra time working on something that doesn’t pay the bills (yet!). Until you can add hours to the day, what’s the solution?

The key is in making the writing time you do have as productive as possible. If you can only spare one hour to write, you can’t waste 20 minutes staring at a blinking cursor because you’re working through a plot or characterization problem, or because you have to re-immerse yourself in your draft after an absence. Make all 60 minutes count.

Here’s how:

Every day, there are numerous opportunities to brainstorm about your project to keep it fresh in your mind and allow you to progress more rapidly when you sit down to write.

(How to Sell Pieces to Magazines and Newspapers.)

The best times are when you’re occupied physically but don’t have to actively think about the task at hand, which is why so many creative people swear by the ideas they get while showering or going for a run. In those moments, your mind is free to focus on your work, and as a major plus, it also removes the pressure that can build during official “writing time.”

Basically, you can be more creative without worrying about word count — and that’s an all-around win.

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