For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Time. Much like the weather, we talk about having too much or too little of it, but we can do nothing to increase or decrease our daily allotment of it. I notice that many authors posting on writing-related social media sites comment about needing more time to write. The relentless demands of daily life can make it hard to find dedicated writing time.
I doubt I’m the only writer who dreams of a quiet room lined with floor to ceiling bookshelves and a beautiful view through a picture window. Ah, I get day dreamy just thinking about it. That is not reality for most of us.
Time and Space to Write
So Plan B, take advantage of the time and places we do have available for writing. When it comes to writing, the old adage that where there’s a will, there’s a way applies. Finding time to write starts with making writing time a priority. Making writing a core value won’t stop the intrusions great and small, urgent and not; but it will mean we are more likely to keep returning our attention back to the writing.
You’re probably familiar with the popular time management illustration that starts with a large, transparent container. The presenter first fills it with large rocks, so it appears full. He/she then pours in gravel, which settles in around the rocks. Then he/she adds sand. Now it truly does appear full, but wait – there is still room for the pitcher full of water.
Carving out writing time is like that. Once in a while there may be large chunks of uninterrupted time to focus only on writing. That might happen when no one else is home; you attend a writer’s retreat; or you manage a day away from your regular routine. Great! Enjoy.
Gravel, Sand and Water
For most authors I know that is a relatively rare treat. However, all of us have gravel size moments to write. We can get to an appointment fifteen minutes early and write a few pages in a journal or on a laptop or tablet. We can park somewhere to write a chapter or a query letter. When I was getting frustrated because I wasn’t finding enough rock size blocks of time to work on my current work in progress, I started taking a notebook with me on the way to the morning exercise class. I left the house much earlier than I needed for an on-time arrival and sat in the parking lot to write the next few pages longhand. I can easily transcribe that to a computer file while watching TV. I managed to complete quite a few chapters that way.
Then there are the moments that we let slip through our days like sand in an hourglass. These are the moments spent waiting for the light to change, a human being to answer the phone, or our turn at the post office. It’s not possible to get much done in those sand-size moments, but we can be jotting down or recording ideas, lists of things to research, titles for blogs, books, or essays, etc.
And finally, when it looks like our time is up, there are the water moments of writing. I think another word for these might be day dreaming – or night dreams. We might be engaged doing mindless things like stirring a pot of soup, folding a basket of clean laundry, or walking the dog. We don’t need to concentrate much on such tasks. Which leaves our minds free to just wander. It is amazing what creative nuggets our subconscious minds might push to the surface when we’re not trying to be creative.
Start Where You Are; Use What You Have
If you don’t have all day to write, claim an hour. If you can’t find an hour, hide somewhere to claim a half hour. If you can’t do that, then stall until you’ve had a quarter hour to list what you will do when you do have the time. And while you’re busy tending to the relentless tasks of daily life, let your mind wander and see what it drags into your creative imagination to write about later.
Time is the great equalizer. We all get the exact same amount every twenty-four hours. The only variation is how we choose to invest the daily dose of it.
Where/how do you carve out time for what you most enjoy?