Where do you find the time to write? I get that question a lot considering I’m married, I have two small children, I work full time, I’m in grad school and I’m trying to finish my thesis. Yet, in the past four years, I’ve completed eight novels and number nine is about a third of the way done. So I thought I’d share a few of my tricks that allow me to carve away precious time to commit to my dream.
First of all, I’m a notebook addict. I always have one in arm’s reach. Whenever I have an idea for a book, or a chapter, or a character, or… whatever, I’m sure to write it down. In order to stay organized with my notebooks, I carry two with me in my purse: one for my current project and one for all my other random ideas. Then when I get a few minutes in front of a computer, I whip out my notebook and type out that chapter or that character sketch. So, I highly recommend a notebook addiction.
Once you have a notebook system, (and it really does have to be a system. Otherwise, you’ll end up with fourteen different notebooks in fifteen different places and you’ll have no idea what’s going on.) take advantage of any and every opportunity to write. For example, when I take my children to the playground, I also take my notebook. After I play with them for a little while, I sit down on the bench, take out my notebook and write. While I’m sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, I take out my notebook and write. I also take out my notebook and write while waiting in line for my latte, sitting in the passenger seat during a car ride, and waiting for my four-year-old to find her shoes so we can leave the house. Hey, I’ve been known to whip out my notebook and jot something down while waiting to flip the bacon at breakfast! Whether it’s twenty seconds or twenty minutes, everything counts and adds to that scene you’re working on.
Next comes that invaluable time I actually get alone with my laptop. For me, this comes when my children are asleep. If I’m home when they take an hour and a half nap, well that’s an hour and a half I have to write. Then at night, after they go to sleep, that’s when I get to break out the computer and type till I can’t type no more. By that time, I have so many ideas in my notebook, that I’m literally overflowing with words and I usually have to force myself to go to bed for the night or put the writing away in order to work on my thesis.
Schedules and deadlines also play an important role when you have many things to juggle. Each day I write a to-do list of what I need to accomplish whether it be work related, school related, home related, or thesis related. I set mini goals for myself in each area so that I don’t get behind. In writing, I have a daily goal of 1000 typed words. If I have extra time one day, I’ll go over that limit. But if I’m strapped for time, I make sure I stop at 1000 and move on to something else I need to accomplish.
Writing is my passion and my dream. If you feel the same way, you have to make sure you give it a place in your life. You have to nurture it and let it grow just like you would any relationship. If you neglect it, it will shrivel up and die like an unwatered plant or just drift out of your life like that boyfriend from sophomore year whose name you can’t even remember. At one point that plant or that boyfriend was probably really important to you. But it’s so easy for other things to get in the way. If you really love it (writing…not that boyfriend) you will find away to give it the attention it deserves.