Making Time to Write...
When Life Just Won't Leave You The Hell Alone
I've touched on this topic a few times throughout the course of Writer's Ramblings. Writing is hard. Finding time to write is even harder. Life is constantly getting in the way.
It doesn't matter if you're a teenager, taking your writing seriously though you think no one else will. Or a single college student scribbling a few lines of poetry between classes. Or newly married, jotting down lines while dinner is
Or an empty-nester, finishing a novel and hoping that the absence of a daily writing schedule won't make you think too much about how quiet your house now is. Or enjoying retirement and adding first-hand knowledge of amazing locations to your book.
It doesn't matter where, or when, you are in life, finding time to write can be anywhere from hard, to down-right impossible. But there are ways to squeeze in a few moments to jot down words or scribble in a note-pad. Life doesn't stop just because you have an amazing story in your head. But the ups and downs, the crazy, beautiful, chaotic, amazing life you live, only adds to what you're writing.
We've all heard exercise enthusiasts preach about carving time out of your day to get a daily workout in. Like waking up a half hour early to run on the treadmill before life really starts swinging. I've never been much for working out, but waking up a little early to write isn't a bad idea. If you're set on getting your work-out mojo on, record yourself speaking out ideas while you're burning through those calories. Then, when you actually have time, listen through the recording and type it out.
If you have younger kids, they will nap more than a few minutes at a time eventually. This is some prime writing time, when the house is quiet. Of course, falling asleep yourself is always an issue, but if you manage to keep your eyes open, you can keep those fingers moving.
For older kiddos, if you're at home, school is a blessing in disguise. Wave them off to the bus then wave hello to your laptop and spend a decent chunk of the day writing while catching up on housework. Working mom? You can type between bites on your lunch break, just be sure not to spill on your keyboard.
After everyone else goes to bed for the night, crack open a beer or pour a glass of wine, and commit a half hour or more to writing. Sure you're losing out on some sleep, and possibly some nooky with the significant other, but you're writing. Save the nooky and sleep for after, where you can test out the moves to the romantic scene you just wrote, in real life.
When you're on the go and something pops into your head, don't lose it, whip out that smart phone that's in your pocket, but instead of opening Facebook, open your notes app and type out what you're thinking. You won't regret it later when your small idea turns into four or five new chapters, maybe even a new book idea.
My favorite way to make time for writing is to do your own writing retreat. You can make this as small or as big as you'd like. Ask the spouse to take care of the kiddos for a bit and sneak off to a Starbucks, or a quite room, or even a park, and get a few hours of uninterrupted writing in. Or take a full day away. Pay a babysitter, beg a family member, trade the spouse for a 'I won't say I'm not in the mood' card, and spend the day writing. If you can, make a weekend out of it. There's tons of writing retreats available around the world for a few days or weeks of literary escape. Some are even low-cost or free! Get away from the usual, the distraction, the chaos, and completely focus on what you're writing.
I went on a family vacation to Fort Morgan, AL a few years back and while the grandparents took the kiddos down to the beach, I was able to sneak an hour of writing time on the back deck. I could see my kids playing in the surf, felt the ocean breeze on my face, smelled the salt water, listened to the rhythmic crashing of the waves, heard the gulls crying out as they coasted above the sand. It inspired me to begin a new book located on the gulf coast. Just an hour of peace in the sun, and a new novel began.
Sometimes the smallest amount of time can have the biggest results.
So no matter where you are in life, how much chaos you're experiencing, how tired you are, find a few minutes or more to sit and write. It's not about how long it takes you to finish. It's about never giving up. You'll finish it when it, and you, are ready. And that will make it the best work you've ever done.