Squeezing in Time to Write
Is it your dream to become a published author; to write a kickass book others will love; to enjoy the accolades of your accomplishment? Between family, work, chores, laundry, exercise, cooking, and in my case, add taking care of five animals, some days there’s not a whole lot of time to write. Throw a holiday or two in the mix and we are way off-kilter. Most days, after checking things off our to-do list and making it home after bumper-to-bumper traffic, we just want to kick our shoes off, get in our jammies, and veg out on the couch with a Netflix series and some popcorn. Anything to calm our racing minds and relax.
Cue the writing excuses:
“I’m too tired to write. . .”
“Tomorrow is another day. . .”
“When I retire, I’ll write that book. . .”
“Ugh, I’ve got no motivation. . .”
“One day I’ll get organized, then I’ll write that book. . .”
“My ideas aren’t going anywhere; I’ll start writing this weekend. . .”
“I wrote two chapters last week. I’ll start chapter three when I get some time. . .”
“I need to learn more about writing before I start. . .”
Sound familiar? I’ve been there, done that, but then I realized there’s no perfect time to write, no magic hour, no enchanted day, and there’s not a charmed potion or incantation that’s going to solidify my knowledge of how to write a book. Yes, it’s a smart thing to know how to write in any given genre, and to understand basic rules of writing mechanics and grammar, but if you keep waiting for all the stars in the universe to align, trust me, you will never make writing that book and fulfilling your dream a reality.
We all lead busy lives. There’s always something to do and variables we can’t account for because they hit us when we least expect it. We must prioritize writing the same way we select other activities to add to our to-do list. So, how do we make writing a priority and carve out time?
First and foremost, we must recognize the fibs we tell ourselves and change our mindset. Counter every excuse with a solution. Implementing the tomorrow-is-another-day excuse? Thwart that fake justification with, no, today is the day! Fire-up that laptop and set a goal to write for ten minutes. You may be surprised, when you check the clock, that you’ve been writing for a lot longer. Exploiting the ugh-I’ve-got-no-motivation defense? Likely alibi. Vanquish that culprit. Find a quick pick-me-up like music, a brisk walk, or a few inspirational quotes to get your creative juices flowing, then write, write, write. https://www.wordytips.com/post/beating-the-winter-writing-blues
Having a spot to write that you can call your own is so important. Your writing environment may differ from that of another, but it should be a comforting and inviting place where you can crank out pages with little distraction. Coffee shops work for some. Writers either drown out the background noise by using headphones or embrace it as if it’s white noise. Others need a quieter locale like the library or home office.
Your writing corner should contain inspiration that’s helpful to you. The backdrop for my writing venue includes a vision board, inspirational quotes, sticky notes with ideas, and notebooks filled with characters, chapter titles, plots, and dialogue. Motivation equals productivity. Your surroundings may look very different because what’s special and motivating to you is what counts.
Your writing spot is not etched in stone. Switching up the scenery works wonders to drive enthusiasm and spur ideas. I often sit on the couch with my laptop and notebooks. I probably have a writing pad and pen in every room of my house as well as in my car. There’s even one at the ready near the treadmill so if I have a spark of inspiration, as I often do when running, I can jot it down. https://www.wordytips.com/post/mother-nature-nightmares-and-the-treadmill
Just as you set up doctor or other appointments and add them to your calendar, arrange timeslots to write. A few hours here and there can ignite a firestorm of writing. Once words begin to flow and paragraphs take shape, completed chapters will follow.
If weekends are your only time to write, set aside a few hours or whatever is feasible for you, on Saturday and Sunday, and hold yourself accountable to abide by the time you’ve carved out.
Don’t forget to take breaks as needed. Setting a timer doesn’t work for me but I know writers who do this. When I sit down to write I like to bang out as much as I can, and I usually end up having marathon sessions.
Another strategy in addition to a time slot for writing is to keep a running day-to-day calendar of writing goals like: research, finding a new character name, coming up with a fresh title, outlining a new chapter or scene, editing an existing chapter, creating character dialogue, and generating a new plot twist, etc.
It may not sound like a lot of time, but fifteen minutes here and there can add up. Even if you take that short space of time to jot down ideas for upcoming chapters, flesh out a character, create a new setting, or add to an existing outline, that’s time well spent.
Though I’m more of an outline-in-the-head type of writer, instead of a regimented-follow-the-written-book-outline-only writer, I do have various written outlines that I refer to from time to time. Either way, it makes sense to have an idea of what you’re going to write when you sit down. That could be an outline of a chapter or scene as well and I have plenty of those.
Setting a daily word count may seem daunting but it can also be helpful. Your daily goal can be based on your genre. Take the approximate word count for your genre and divide it by the number of time slots you’ve set up. This will give you a good working number.
Let’s say your target word count for the day is 2000, when you hit 1000, it’s motivating to know you’re halfway there. When you reach your goal, you can either stop there or continue but always remember to reward yourself with praise for a job well done, or something tangible like a few pieces of chocolate, dinner with a friend, a glass of wine, or settling in with that popcorn and your favorite show.
Sticking to a word count is a great way to see the progress you’re making.
Squeeze in the time. You got this, my darlings!