This month the Insecure Writers Support Group is talking about how to find time in our busy schedules to write. This is a tricky thing. I have tried many different techniques with mixed results, but the one thing I have come away with is – you don’t find time, you make time. There is always something else that would be more enjoyable to do instead of writing. There usually something else that needs to be done instead of If you want to write, then write. No excuses.
That being said, I have failed many times to successfully make writing a priority. I’ve had very reasons to neglect my characters, but that’s not important. Here are the three things that help me stay on track and maintain a writing practice.
- Make a plan. You won’t get anywhere fast without a map. It seems kitschy, but you’ll get more done if you write down an action plan on paper. It is the act of writing down (not typing) your intentions that make you do the work. Not only have I read about this phenomenon from an academic perspective, I have experienced it.The act of moving your hand over paper in a meaningful way makes your brain act differently. I am a huge fan of keeping track of word count in a spreadsheet like Jamie Raintree’s Writing & Revision Tracker, but tracking alone doesn’t keep me going. I need to sit down on a Sunday and plan out what I am going to write that week in a planner, then check off each completed task. If the planner is pretty and I get to use fancy markers to write down the different types of tasks, all the better.
- Write first thing in the morning. I have had the best results with maintaining a writing habit if I get up early to do my daily work. Be it writing a specific number of words or editing a specific number of pages, I do it before I do anything else. I don’t get dressed. I don’t check my email. I don’t check my social media outlets. I roll out of bed and walk across the hall to my office where I turn the electric kettle on, splash a little water on my face, and scoop some tea in the teapot. By the time the water is boiling, I am ready to get down to work. Then I sit there until the words are written or the two hours have gone by, whichever comes first. Sometimes, it’s a long two hours of staring at a blank page. Sometimes, the time flies and I want to keep going. Those are the good days.
- Let your house go. I hate to do housework, so this is not that difficult for me. Anyway, seriously, take some of the time you were spending on non-essential cleaning and use that time to write. The dust will be there when your writing time is over. I have gotten over some of my guilt around not cleaning my house by developing a plan around the essential cleaning. Each day of the week has a cleaning task that can be done in less than one hour and I’ve set up a rotating list of occasional tasks that get done monthly or quarterly. This way, my toilets are relatively clean all the time and the dining room is dust-free only once a month.
How do you make time for the things that are important to you?
Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writers Support Group. The purpose of the group is to share and encourage each other to express our doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds, so consider joining the group.