Writing seems to have the same therapeutic effect as reading, am I right? It isn’t too difficult to squeeze in a few minutes here and there throughout the day to read an article or blog post on a topic that relates to a situation in our lives or even just something interesting, whether fun or informational. Finding that time to sit down with a hot cup of our favorite hot drink, with our comfy clothing on, and that book: fiction, non-fiction, comic book, whatever, seems so much more eluding.
As does that writing time.
Between work, family, kids, errands, and other adultish responisbilities, just thinking about thinking when there could be enough time to grab out that notebook or open that document (or software program), seems somewhat insane.
I like insane. Not the, lock me up insane, but productive-imaginative-there-is-absolutely-no-limits-insanity. Something happens in those moments, mind racing, ideas just pouring out, no possible way to get them all out and written down before they are pushed out by the next idea. It sucks those moments can’t be controlled, that we can’t call on that state of mind.
Thankfully, most of us probably already have at least one idea. This is why we have those writer’s notebook/journals, right? I actually have 3, non-digital journals. 1 in my bag, for those thoughts on the go, 1 in my nightstand for those late night or early morning ideas, and 1 in my office. I have no idea why, that is where my computer is. I wish I was capable of keeping only one. It would be easier to go through notes on a specific idea, but I’m incapable of making sure I take it with me everywhere I go, this is why, even with three journals, I still end up with 50 sticky notes laying around at any giving point.
Anyway, moving on now.
Fitting more writing time into your day is less about finding more time, there is only so much of it, but more about making purposeful use of the time there is. We all have responsibilities that are going to take a required, and sometimes, at specific times during the day. There isn’t too much we can do to control those blocks of time, but if you search for it, there is some flexibility in the remaining portions. At least here and there.
Wake up earlier.
As long as my coffee was nearby, I found that I did surprisingly well waking up a little earlier than the kids to get in some extra quite time just to write. I’m not normally a morning person, but I found it was just the actual act of waking up and physically getting out of the bed that was my issue. Once I was up and had that coffee brewing, I was fine.
So, look at your own day. Does it make sense for you to try this out? It doesn’t require a lot of extra earliness, even twenty minutes or so. This might not be a good idea if, you do have to leave the house in the morning or are responsible for waking up/getting others ready to get out of the house, and you tend to lose yourself while writing. This, by the way, is an excellent time to spend going through those random notes and getting them with the stories/manuscripts they belong with. It has also worked out to be the perfect brainstorming time for me.
Go to bed later.
Betcha figured this one was next. But, it’s also something to consider. Would it work for your lifestyle? If you have kids, do they go to bed early enough for this to work? I found that I don’t actually need to stay up later, now that most of my kids are old enough to not need constant supervision. It’s just the idea of writing before bed, not necessarily staying up later.
It doesn’t always work out. Sometimes sleep is the only thing you want, sometimes there is something else around the house that requires your attention, other times you’d rather take that time to read or watch a movie. But when it does work, I’ve found that I will pay absolutely no attention to the clock. I can write my way to stress relief.
Setting aside some time before bed was the easiest for me when I started writing everyday. The kids were either in bed or off doing their own thing, the husband would go out to the garage to play with the car or do whatever it is he wanted to do, I didn’t have to feel guilty or like I was neglecting anyone or anything for taking this time for myself.
Plan your time.
No need to decide what every single minute of every single day is going to used for. I like to have a plan for everything, I’m a lister too. But I’ve never been one to really make an actual time schedule and stick to it for more than that first day (if I even made it that far). I do however, decide which portion of the day will be used for a particular general task that has to be done. The first half of my day is for work, the next few hours are for homeschooling a few of the kids, and I sprinkle housework and other random household responsibilities throughout the whole day. I like to have a plan, but I also need those plans to be fluid.
I didn’t have any type of plan in place in the past, and as my life got busier, my writing and even just time to read got less and less until it didn’t happen at all. Once I began trying to make a schedule of sorts, I realized so much of my day was being wasted. I mean I don’t even think about it anymore, but if I have to run out to do some errands, I will figure the easiest route that will take the least amount of time to get to them all and get back. Rather than do laundry once a week all day long, I throw a load or two in every other day and the older kids are now responsible for washing their own stuff, or risk going naked.
To start, just pay attention to what you do all day. We’ve all heard of tracking our spending, well let’s track our time too. Are you running to the grocery store multiple times a week? Stopping for gas, but not filling up each time and having to stop when you probably wouldn’t have to yet? Could you go once or twice, limiting the number of times and the cumulative time spent doing that?
Do you have kids in activities that require you to drive them to and from? Do you hang out during practice? Could you bring along your journal, laptop, or tablet?
Are you spending time in front of the television at night? (NOT judging anyone here, I have like 15 favorite TV shows, DVR is my lifesaver.) Could you set up the DVR? (There are those nights when my brain is just too tired to do anything else, staring at the TV for awhile can be relaxing. Having everything on the DVR means I get to choose which nights to watch them.)
When I worked full-time outside the home, I usually used my lunch hour to write or read. I generally didn’t have someone to go to lunch with, which is fine with me, introvert here. Using that time for me worked perfectly.
So grab a notebook, piece of paper, open an app on your phone, whatever, and start tracking your time for a few days. See what a day in the life of, really looks like for you. Do it for a few days. Every once and a while it’s good to track an odd day here and there as well. I still do this, just to see if there is anything else I can adjust, (my days are constantly changing and evolving).
I gave all three of these a try the first time I did Nanowrimo. I had a specific goal, filled out my daily word count goals, and told my family and friends I was going to be busy all month. I decided to be selfish for once and figured they would all adjust. Adjust they did. Everyone managed to survive. Since doing that first Nano, I do have to admit it is easier to cram in some extra writing time. Both for me and for those close to me.
The one thing to remember, is that you don’t have to try and find hours upon hours during the day to write. For many of us, it isn’t realistic. We have jobs, family, kids, friends, other hobbies, and so on. Trying to force more and more time to write won’t work. You have to be creative about it at times, decide to wake up a few minutes earlier, go to bed a few minutes later, bring your journal with you to work for a writing lunch. Some days are easier than others, you will eventually find that time to sit at your computer and let the words flow. But just having a few minutes each day to write something down, keeps those thoughts flowing and ready for that larger chunk of time when you can let yourself just go.