Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Finding time to write

Ah, winter, the season of the terminal sniffles, sneezes, coughs, and loss of productivity.  I have been trying to find a good way to organize my time... to ensure that I devote time to my work (the one that pays the bills), my family, and my writing (blogging and "real"), not to mention the assorted household chores that keep our family's chaos under control.

Since the writing (sadly) tends to fall by the wayside, I decided to try a new approach this month: two days are set aside for writing and nothing else. Naturally, this new beginning was blindsided by illness.  Both children home on my designated writing days, and I have sniffles, sneezing, and coughing of my own... but here I am.  I am determined to make this work.

How to find time to write is something many (most? all?) writers seem to struggle with. I have read advice from a variety of sources on how to deal with it.  The major piece of advice everyone seems to agree upon is that you need to reallocate your time, triage your activities, if you will, and do away with those that simply do not fit into your schedule.  Or if you cannot do away with them, at least put them off (or better yet, get someone else to do them!).

When I was in graduate school, I was taught to schedule writing and research time into my week and treat that time as sacred.  Would we allow someone to schedule a meeting during one of our classes?  Of course not!  So why allow our writing time to be parceled out to others?  It's a good rule and guides my efforts to devote two days a week to writing.  Now if only the kids didn't need to stay home, it might just be productive....

Another alternative is to make use of every available moment.  This approach, termed "The 5 Minute Writer" by Jane Choate, calls upon writers to literally make use of every spare moment.  Look up potential character names, brainstorm story ideas, back up files, send an email query, proof read a couple of pages of your WIP... these are all suggestions for activities that she has found useful in her efforts to find time to write, and each can be done in as few as five minutes.

They are good suggestions. My only problem is that I tend to get drawn into my work, once it gets going. Forcing myself to stop after five or ten minutes is painful and frustrating.  But perhaps when my current work is further along, those options will better serve my purposes. In the meantime, I hope they might benefit others—no matter what kind of writing you do, you can always find a way to get it done, as long as you make it a priority.  Happy writing, everyone!


  1. yes finding the time...the constant battle...
    I try to write when the baby is in housework dishes still on table lunch forgone or eaten over keyboard...some days I manage two hours, some days zero...good luck...remember you can write in your head...and as my middle child reminded me with a pen and paper too...;)

  2. I write in my head, then write some more... I just can't seem to get it from my head to a more concrete form. Pen and paper... what are those, again? :)