Finding the time to write is easy. Just follow this advice:
- Don’t get sick.
- Never get injured.
- Inform your family they cannot get sick or injured either.
- Let the baby change his own diaper.
- The three-year old will eventually stop screaming.
- Family chauffeur service for soccer/dance/football/science club? Forget about it.
- Dinner? Pfft, who needs it?
- Supporting your family until you’re rich and famous? Come on, who really wants a roof over their head?
- Visiting your parents, siblings, and extended family? It’s not like they will get mad at you if you disappear for 3 years!
- Writer’s block? Fake it til you make it.
- Showering? Step out in the rain occasionally and invest heavily in deodorant.
- The sun? Do you really need vitamin D?
- Don’t mow the lawn. Your neighbors are only pretending to be angry.
- Not able to afford writing tools since you listened to the advice on not working? Chalk is cheap and sidewalks are everywhere. Bonus vitamin D included.
- Give up your social life completely.
- Stop reading.
- Nothing to write about because you’ve lived in a void? Keep thinking, eventually something will happen.
Obviously life it going to intrude into your precious writing time. Unless you actually want to follow the ridiculous steps above you’re going to have to deal with it. The trick is to find the times in between to write. If your life is really busy all you can do is squeeze in minutes.
If you have young children you know the moments when the house is quiet because of naps, during daily kid shows, the tiny snippet of time while you’re cooking – waiting for water to boil or while something is baking, after they fall asleep at night, right before they wake. If you’re lucky enough to get to go grocery shopping alone. These are the moments you want to sneak in some writing. Even taking a couple of minutes to jot down ideas will make a world of difference. Dictating while driving could mean the difference between writing the most brilliant book of your life or simply forgetting the idea. If you walk or run for exercise, dictate instead of listening to music.
If you work you know how hard it is to find moments to write. Take ten minutes on your lunch break to write. Again, dictating while driving to and from work can help. Get up 30 minutes early to write, or stay up 30 minutes longer. Always take some time on at least one of your days off. A couple of hours a week of writing will add up over time.
I strongly recommend using a timer to train yourself to write efficiently and effectively in short bursts. I’m going to follow that advice myself. The list says to never get sick or injured. Well I broke that rule rather strongly. I haven’t really be able to write much for months, especially in August. I could get depressed and stop completely. I could feel sorry for myself and piss and moan about not being able to write, or stare at my story boards despondently. Instead I’m going to suck it up and write when I can. I know I can sit at my desk for at least 10 minutes straight so I’ll set my timer for that long and write in as many bursts as my aching back lets me. I might still feel a bit sorry for myself though.
I’m not saying you should force yourself to write when it’s going to hurt you. When my appendix decided it liked New Jersey enough to want to stay there instead of coming home to Texas, writing was impossible. Pain like that wouldn’t allow me to think about writing, let alone do the actual act. After surgery to get rid of the ungrateful, useless body part I was so sick that sitting up for longer than 2 or 3 minutes was not happening. I couldn’t even read for days. Then I had to ride in a car for 30 hours (across 3 days). So you can imagine the amount of writing I got accomplished. It sucks but I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I’m healed up from it now and I can work on getting back to my normal writing schedule, or at least as normal as I can due to my back problems.
That’s all you can really do. Write when you can. Make the time, if possible and take advantage of the moments you do have. Do get outside sometimes. Take a spiral to a park once a week, your muse will love it. Take care of your kids and as they grow teach them to respect your writing time. Spend time with extended family, it will improve your writing being around people and you won’t have to feel guilty (besides these are the first people who inspired your characters). Hang out with friends so you remember how to adult. Mow the lawn and while you’re doing it be thinking about your story. Jot down your thoughts before you jump in the shower afterwards. Keep a notebook on you at all times. You can’t plan for when a great idea hits so it’s better to be prepared. The writing while waiting for water to boil thing may sound silly but why not try? There is dictation software out there that will let you use your smartphone to record. Never stop reading. The more you read the better writer you will be.
Mostly remember that life can and will get crazy but eventually there will be calm times. Most of these things are hurdles to get over not permanent road blocks. Don’t give up on writing if you love it.
Oh and please do shower!
Sidenote: This is what I wrote for my Saturday Six Minute Challenge. It took longer than 6 minutes which makes me happy since it’s always my goal to write for longer. I feel like a writer again! Now I’m going to go work on my ghost story. Happy writing everyone!