Friday, November 07, 2014

Time to Write!

I often get asked how I find the time to do all the writing I do, and I think it’s worth saying that I don’t find the time, I make it. It’s a small distinction, yeah, but I think it has a lot to do with mindset.

Writing is a priority for me and so I’ve learned to stuff it into an already packed schedule. I am a typically busy person, working part-time, parenting full-time, keeping active, having other hobbies, and volunteering with multiple organizations. How do I make time to write? Glad you asked! The short answer is that I prioritize and make sacrifices. Now, to the long answer!

I don’t want to be discouraging, but writing does have to be a priority. Maybe not the number one – things like family and paid work need to take precedence – but it’s got to be near the top of your list or you’re unlikely to make the time.

There are some things that absolutely need to happen in your day, and if these things occupy all your hours, trying to fit in writing probably isn’t realistic. That doesn’t mean your priorities aren’t subject to change. Maybe a promotion or a child starting school will give you that bit of time you need. I barely wrote during university, but once I graduated, oh how the words flowed!

I stopped watching TV almost in its entirety, cutting it down to only one show a week (Doctor Who, in case you’re wondering). I don’t watch any TV in the off-season. We don’t even have cable anymore. There wasn’t enough value in television for me to give up writing for it. So out it went. I also actively try to minimize my time on social media.

By staying off the internet as much as possible without losing all of my friends, I have freed up scads of time to work on my novels. So take a look at your leisure activities. What can you cut back on?

Get Organized
I have an old-fashioned paper day planner that my life absolutely revolves around. I plan my days with military precision (note, I didn’t say that I execute them with the same precision, but I try) and it helps me to streamline all of my chores and my to-dos. Knowing what I need to do and when helps keep me focused.

I don’t have a smartphone (no, really) but I’m sure there are all kinds of wonderful apps and features that can help you plan out your day to make you more efficient, freeing up precious moments you could use writing.

Location, Location, Location!
Find a good place to write. This is almost as important as making the time. Maybe you just need a cozy corner in your living room. Maybe you need to get dressed and out of your house to be productive, so trek to a coffee shop or your local library. Experiment and see where you work best.

Take it With You
I have notebooks stashed around my house, in my coat pocket, and in my purse so that I never have to worry about an idea getting away. I also bought a purse big enough to fit my laptop (Kelley Armstrong gets credit for that one, she’s fabulous!). I’ve written in the car, at tables at festivals, jotted notes in restaurants and even worked on my writing in waiting rooms. I never get much done this way, but it really does add up.

Enlist Your Family
I generally write after my daughter goes to bed, but I have some “me-time” hours on the weekend when my husband fully takes over the parenting, giving me more time for writing. He and my daughter know not to bother me.

Make sure your family understands how important your writing time is. If you don’t have the same time every day, find a system you can use to signal to them that it is your time to write, and only dire emergencies are acceptable interruptions.

Get a Little Crazy
Join a writing group that holds you accountable. There are so many of them out there! If you think you might have the time, but are a little fearful, check out writing events like NaNoWriMo. I’ve participated in it for years. Get swept up in the sea of literary insanity, throw your internal editor and your fears overboard, and write.

Remember, you can do this! And your story matters. Now go forth and write. 

1 comment:

  1. Such great advice!

    My wish for you is a holiday season filled with peace, joy and love.

    Happiness an health to you and yours in the new year!