“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” — E.L. Doctorow
If someone told me as I first started writing about nine years ago that my writing would be a never ending journey, I’m not sure I would have set out on that particular path. Granted, most people start writing for a reason, which usually includes the buzzing of character voices and ideas that won’t shut up. That was my case, and even with that warning I probably wouldn’t have had a choice in the matter. I find writing to be the only way to get the voices to shut the hell up (yeah, that makes me sound pretty certifiable huh?). But it’s the idea of the never ending that might make most people bulk, though I have learned since then that never ending can be a good thing.
When I started writing, I didn’t even know how to put a decent sentence together. Of course back then, I thought I could do at least that much, but I was young, delusional, and a little stupid. I don’t even dare look back at my writing from the very beginning because I’d cringe way too much. It was embarrassing. Really it was.
For most writers finding time to actually write can be one of the most difficult things to do. Many writers have other jobs that help pay the bills while trying to build their passion as a writer. And some, like myself, are stay at home moms (or dads) who write as something to do to keep the insanity of parenthood from pulling them under. You would think that the stay at home parent would have a slight advantage to those who work and be able to write all the time. This is not true.
Finding time to write and balance the schedule of my son has been quite difficult these last few years. Mostly because set schedules are hard to stick to when a child decides to get sick and requires your every moment to help them feel better, or he gets grumpy and doesn’t want to do what you ask and it becomes an epic battle of wills, or he decides he want to be played with no matter how much you want to sit down and write, oh and then there’s the accidents like fingers getting squished by doors or that jug of milk that gets spilled all over on the kitchen floor by an over helpful toddler. Any one of these things (and more) can bring your day to a screeching halt and those plans for writing just got vetoed in a big way. And even when said child goes off to school, a parents job is never truly over, and in some ways gets even more complicated.
Let’s go back to those diligent people who work outside the home (or some who work at home). Writing isn’t much easy for those folks. I know a few of those kind of writers. Who juggle work, family, and writing. Some manage to squeeze some writing in during slow times at the office. Others don’t have that luxury and have to wait until home, but between all the grocery shopping, little league soccer games, and still finding time to do some exercise for yourself, well there isn’t a whole lot of time left over for the true passion of writing.
Does any of this sound familiar? Do you wonder if it will ever end and you actually WILL get time to write? The answer should be yes. If you really love writing and those characters just won’t leave you alone until you get them down on paper, then YOU will find the time to write.
The best thing I’ve found that works for me is to be willing to tackle writing in smaller chunks. Think one scene at a time, or one section of a scene. Know what you are going to write before you even start writing.
Know What You’re Going to Write
You know all that time you spend in the car driving from one place to another? Or you’re folding the laundry, or cleaning the house? Use that time to think about what’s most important and what needs to be tackled first. So when you do get a minute to write, you’re not wasting it asking yourself, “So what do I write now?”
Carry a Notebook Everywhere
Carry a notebook everywhere you go. Be ready to pull it out and jot down notes, thoughts, short scene or story summaries, or character descriptions when you get the chance. Waiting in doctor offices, or waiting for your vehicle to get a tune up are perfect times to pull out that notebook!
Work late, Work Early
Be willing to have some late nights or early mornings to write. I know infringing on sleep is hard, but if you are like me and spend half the night thinking of your characters instead of sleeping, then you should just get out of bed and write. Believe me, it’s easier that way.
Make Sure to Write Everyday!
Be willing to MAKE time for yourself. Sure the dishwasher needs to be unloaded. Sure the cat needs to go to the vet. Sure you really should be getting laundry done for work the next day. But finding at LEAST 15 MINUTES to write each day is important. Find ways to fit that time in no matter what. Even if that means eating on paper plates for the next two days. Everyday that you write makes it that much easier to write, and soon you’ll be wondering how you managed to get so much writing done in the small amount of time you have to dedicate to it.
If writing is truly a passion that you want to explore, YOU will find the time to write.
What ways do you use to find time to write? Feel free to post comments below.
Last month I did a post called A Study of Character: At the Park. I focused on being at the park and how watching the children and adults can make for interesting character study as they can show us the variety of emotions in a short time. I would like to expand on this topic a little and now talk about the study of character at the mall and how it can be a great way to come up with character descriptions and mannerisms for your next character.
Have you ever stopped, sat down on a bench, and just watched the people walk by you at a mall? Sure we all go to the mall. We may even notice people passing that make us take a second look. We may even stop and stare at the man in orange pants with a Mohawk and tattoos on every visible surface of the skin. But it’s the more interesting stuff that can be seen when sitting down and watching.