In this busy time (fall into holidays) it’s hard to think that there is time to write. As much as I desire both the time and energy to write, as with many writers, finding either is an ongoing struggle. The good news for all of us: there are hidden pockets of time to convert to writing time, tools to help us keep focused on writing projects, and inspiration to stay on track and get “it” done. What better way to make you feel great about your writing, yourself, and your life?
Don’t Be Afraid to Work in Chunks
Recognize the “I need at least four uninterrupted hours to write” belief as the resistance it is. Sure, in a perfect world we have loads of quiet time (well, maybe just a little sound from the nearby ocean) in our writing garret to ponder and think and write and rewrite. If your life works this way, good for you! If not (and I’m guessing there are quite a few of us out there) don’t be afraid to write in chunks. As a writer, you work in scenes and chapters that together, build an entire story. Work the same way you write—in pieces! You can keep your work in progress going until you do finally have that lovely, elusive four hours of time to do nothing but write. Until then, write if you have 10, 20, 30 minutes, or an hour. If it is all the time you have to write, it is enough.
Turn Waiting Time into Writing Time
Have you ever had an appointment where you sit and wait a half-hour for a doctor (or teacher or dentist, or…) What about waiting for your daughter’s team time at a swim meet? How about when the grocery line looks like 20 minutes until you get to checkout? Do you ever travel and find yourself in an airport for a few hours? Instead of talking on your cell phone, or playing with your Blackberry, or reading e-mails, or surfing the net on your iPad, use this time to write! Lunchtime at the job? Take a short walk to a place to write. If you don’t work well without your computer or need quiet to do full-on writing, jot down ideas for scenes, snippets of dialogue you hear in your head from your characters, thoughts about your WIP (work-in-progress), or whatever you choose that has to do with your current writing project. You never waste time when you are working on your writing, no matter what form it takes.
Transform Task Time into Writing Time
Multitasking is one of those annoying catchphrases, and usually it means too much to do with little chance for focus. When it comes to writing, you can use multitasking to keep ideas flowing on a continual basis and keep in touch with your work-in-progress. You can turn jogging, walking, and as we’ve seen, waiting time into writing time. Think about your WIP as you begin, then let your muse (or imagination, subconscious, universe or wherever you think those brilliant ideas come from) kick in. Just be sure to have a system to keep track of your ideas which brings us to…
Get Control of Time Drains: Schedule Them
Do you really need to watch a rerun of Law and Order one more time? Or spend an hour on twitter, facebook, or Google pages? Or check out a link, then another, then another, read blog after blog, or page through mail-order catalogues, or…or…or…
There are hundreds of meaningless time-drains in your life that seem vital at the moment, but really aren’t. Identify them, schedule time for what you really need and/or want to do, and then limit yourself to the time you allow for them. I found a good chunk of writing time once I limited myself to ten minutes twice a day on facebook and twitter. You don’t need to abolish anything. Look at what these activities cost you in time and then decide if each is worth the time spent. Hold these activities up to time you could be writing. You’ll soon see the huge reward in shifting surf-the-net time to writing time.
Set Boundaries and Learn to Say “No”
This is an ongoing struggle for many of us. You don’t need to always step up and do everything. The world will turn without your constant influence. If it helps, think of this skill as getting your family and friends to help support your writing. They will appreciate the opportunity to be part of such an important aspect of your life. Say “thank you” instead of doing everything yourself. Give someone else the responsibility of a meal, or organizing a get-together, or let someone else serve on the library board this time around. Again, choose what you need or want to do and let some of the other responsibilities go. Finding time to write can mean finding balance in your life.
Keep Track of Your Writing Progress
You will be inspired to find more time to write when you see how much you can accomplish with just a few of these ideas. Whether it urges you forward to see your increase in pages, word-count, or time you write, keep track of one (or all!) and post your progress where you can see it. Once you get momentum started, use it for more inspiration followed by even more momentum. You’ve worked hard to get this far, now acknowledge your success.[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://howtowriteshop.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/KathyColum.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Award-winning novelist Kathy Steffen teaches fiction writing and speaks at writing programs across the country. Additionally, Kathy is also published in short fiction and pens a monthly writing column, Between the Lines. Her books, FIRST THERE IS A RIVER, JASPER MOUNTAIN and THEATER OF ILLUSION are available online and at bookstores everywhere.[/author_info] [/author]