Jim is another one of those people that I met through this thing we call the internet. Maybe Twitter. Maybe Facebook. I really can’t remember because as soon as we were introduced, Jim and I became fast friends. Honestly, if you need someone to just affirm your very existence, you need to know JIm. I think this post will show why. Enjoy.

Many writers recommend writing first thing in the morning, which typically means getting up between 4:30-5:00 AM to write. But whenever I attempt to do this, I often find myself sleeping on the keyboard or falling asleep in the middle of the day. I’d like to propose some ideas for the writers who don’t want to get up with the chickens. I firmly believe there is no one specific way to write, other than you just have to find the time and do it.

Write in the evening.
I have an almost 3 yr old daughter who is FILLED to the brim with energy. When she goes to bed, I try to start writing. However, there are times I need to unwind and spend some time with my wife. The first thing I do is write down specifically what I would like to work on after my break. I’ll write down the title to a blog post or an idea that I’d like to explore further. Then I set a timer for around 45 minutes. When the timer goes off, it’s time for ink to hit the page.

Sure, I might spend 45 minutes watching a couple episodes of King of Queens, but my subconscious gives me a head start on the evening’s writing goal. Don’t forget the timer! When I forget to set the timer, I am a million times more likely to veg on the couch, surf the web mindlessly and neglect my writing responsibilities.

Write on the weekends.
I often accomplish a significant part of my weekly writing by being productive when my daughter takes her afternoon nap during the weekend. Sure, I could easily be watching the White Sox game or Rocky for the 1000th time, but writing is more important to me. Even if you don’t have kids, you still might need to say no to a party or barbeque in order to write.

I’m not saying you need to say no all of the time; balance is important, but try to use your free time as wisely as possible. If you are a writer, a portion of your free time should be spent writing. Writing becomes a hobby when you just do it when you “feel like it.”

Write on the daily commute.

I am extremely fortunate to ride the bus, which is great for the environment as well as my writing time. I’ll spend a portion of my time on the bus reading a book and the other half just writing about my surroundings. Buildings, other riders, the sky, anything. Sometimes I will just talk to whoever is sitting next to me and just soak in their stories. Even if you can’t ride the bus, you can still write on your commute. When I drive, I use a voice recorder on my iPod to record my thoughts as I drive down the road. Then I later organize my thoughts and often have a headstart on my writing for the day.

Write all the time.
I enjoy jotting down ideas on a notebook and then I revisit them later. I’d say this is how I come up with most of my blog post ideas. If you are walking outside and something catches your eye, write it down. If you see something that reminds you of something you did as a child, write it down. Even if you don’t want to use a physical notebook, fire yourself a text message of your ideas and observations.

Write when you have energy.
This might sound really simple and self-explanatory, but you need to write when you have energy. Match the task at hand to the amount of energy you have. If you have the most focus between 10:00 AM-11:00 AM, see if you can take an early lunch hour and write then. At bare minimum I’d recommend taking a short break then to jot down some ideas and see how much work you can do in a 15 minute break. I know you won’t be able to do this all of the time and this might sound too “perfect.” It will take some trial and error to find your writing groove. You will need to write when you don’t have enough energy to keep your eyes open (coffee helps here). You will figure it out. Be patient. Give it some time.

Write, write, write.
Life is often crazy. When my daughter gets sick, usually I get sick. The car has a flat tire. The house needs to be cleaned because company is coming over. Friends need help. Things come up all the time. If I didn’t have a flexible writing plan and HAD to write every morning at 4:30 AM, I probably would have burnt out and given up. I don’t want you to burn out. The key is to find what works for YOU and write.

Jim Woods is a writer, dreamer and chocolate chip cookie addict in Nashville, TN. You can read more of his posts at his blog here or find him on Twitter @unknownjim.