Friday, September 25, 2009

Answering the queston "How do you find the time?"

Tip of the day: It’s almost October! How did that happen? Anyway, hurry, shop for Halloween costumes now, before the best ones are gone!

I get asked all the time how I do everything I do.

I work a day job.

I have a family, including two kids in school, one of whom asks for help with his homework almost every evening.

I write books.

I have a dog I like to walk, for both of our sakes, and a few TV shows I can’t live without. Okay, okay, I COULD live without them, but I just really don’t want to. I mean, Tim Gunn gives me a reason to get up on Friday mornings! (I know, PROJECT RUNWAY is on Thursdays, but I can’t stay up until 11:00, so I record it and watch it after we have our weekly pizza dinner Friday evening).

Anyway, I’ve definitely got a lot going on.

So, in no particular order, here is my top five list on how to squeeze that writing in.

1) Figure out when you are at your best and do your writing then. Some people do well at night after everyone is asleep. I am not one of those people. I’m better at getting up early. But it really doesn’t matter WHEN you get to the keyboard, just that you do.

2) You have to learn how to get in some writing even when you don’t have a lot of time. If you only have 15 minutes that day, make the most of that 15 minutes. Open the document, read the couple of paragraphs you wrote before right before you left off, and just get started. The hardest part is usually getting started. DON’T MAKE EXCUSES. Open the document and GO.

3) When I’m trying to get a first draft done, I make it a goal to do at least 100 words a day NO MATTER WHAT. Usually I end up doing more than that, but this simple goal forces me to think about my time throughout the day and I am ALWAYS able to find the time to open the document and add some words.

4) The internet is an evil distraction – you must have designated writing time and you must have designated internet time. I try to write in big chunks on the weekends, since I have more time then, and I work really hard to stay away from the internet during that time. If I have to turn the internet router OFF, I do it.

5) Sometimes, in order to find the time to write, I do have to give up something else. I find that as long as I don’t give up the SAME thing each time, it’s doable. A couple of days a week, I may give up 30 minutes of sleep, and get up earlier than I normally do. A couple of days a week, I may not exercise as long as I usually do. A couple of days a week, I may spend less time responding to e-mails and doing promotional things. Every day – it’s about prioritizing and making choices.

Finally, the last thing is to not be too hard on yourself. I have some days and even some weeks where there is just too much going on and writing takes a backseat. It doesn't do any good to beat myself up about it, because usually those days/weeks are ones where I'm stressed to the max anyway. So, I tell myself, it's okay. That's life!

Any tips you have on how to fit writing in to a busy life?

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career


Suzanne said...

I have 4 kids )2 in school & 2 at home potty training), 1 dog, 1 hubby, 2 PT businesses, 1 FT medical business we're in the middle of selling...I have notebooks ALL over the house, car, backpack, purse...I'm a paper scribbler. Once a week I try to sit down, late at night usually, to collect and reconcile all my thoughts into something resembling entertaining coherence. still a work in progress

Kate Fall said...

Lisa, I think your #5 tip is key for me. I have to rotate what gets short shrift. Sleep one week, exercise the next, reading the next. I'm glad to find out this works for someone else, too.

Suzanne, keep up your energy! It helps when the kids get older. Now both of mine are in elementary school and I feel too old to stay up late writing.

Barbara Dee said...

When I'm working I never, ever answer the phone. Okay, I make an exception if I see one of my kids' cell numbers on the Caller ID--but otherwise, NO CALLS. Sometimes I get the feeling friends and family don't understand my policy--after all, I'm home, so why can't I just answer? But I've learned to protect my writing time tigerishly. And I can always call people back.

Shannon Messenger said...

I love these tips. (Thank you for sharing)

I too work a day job (being unpublished kind of requires that *sighs*) so I bring my laptop to work and use my lunch break to get an hour of writing in (my coworkers have gotten very used to me putting in my headphones to tune out the phone and spending the hour at my desk)

And I've found this has several benefits: 1) I saved money (since I used to spend my lunch wandering target or the mall) 2) I lost weight (because now I have to bring my lunch, which is always healthier than take-out) and 3) It jumpstarts my evening writing time because I'm now starting in the middle of a scene.

So it's win win win. (Sorry, random Office reference)

DeenaML said...

I also did the "Write during work lunches" thing to pound out one of my novels and it was great! I told myself to do just 2 pages longhand, then I'd get home at night and type them into Word and would usually keep going and end up with more than the 2 pages. It worked out really well and always kept my head in the story.