Other people have a tendency to dismiss the particulars of the writing process as erratic and unnecessary when they see it in action. Watching me swing from Scene A to Conflict B to Denouement C looks a lot like watching me find three different, similarly unsatisfying positions on the couch, brew a pot of tea, glumly pick at the loose threads on my shirt, let the pot of tea get cold, eat deli turkey straight from the fridge, return to the couch, stretch in the prone position, and type twenty words before my elbows go numb and I have to flip on my back, restarting the whole process.
From anyone else’s point of view, writing looks like a waste of time, and you look ripe for interruption. Confession: I’m absolutely terrible at not allowing my writing time to be violated, so I asked other writers and bloggers to weigh in. Here are their strategies for making and defending their writing time.
Strategy 1: Writing Time in Three Steps
Davey Jones (daveyrjones.com) says:
I’ve found that protecting my time for writing necessitates (1) planning, (2) negotiation with others who might infringe/want a share of that time, and (3) dedication and willingness to use less-than-ideal time (e.g. I personally do my best work during the super early mornings).
Specifically about planning, I keep a very well organized journal of notes on current works (notes that I’ve jotted down during spontaneous bursts of creative imagination) in order to have sufficient information to use during my protected time.
Strategy 2: Expect Just Enough
Ygor Speranza (medium.com/@ysperanza) says:
Having a demanding job can certainly challenge your writing. And it doesn’t need to be a job that takes away all of your time: professions that are stressful enough will certainly drain more from your mind than from your day’s hours.
The important thing is to write a little bit every day, even if it is so very little. Try to use lunch hours to revise your work, try to record ideas and passages you think up while on the street or on the elevator in your mobile cellphone. You may want to adjust what you write to this schedule (writing smaller pieces, for instance) otherwise you will feel frustrated and you’ll never finish anything.
Oh! And it is also very important not to trick yourself into thinking that you’ll have your entire weekend to write (if you do, that’s awesome). If you have a demanding job, you deserve some time off at the weekends to rest, and you probably have a family which wants a little bit of you as much as your writing does. So jog a little bit every day, and use the weekend for the longer runs, but don’t try to run a marathon every Sunday (you’ll easily hurt yourself this way).
Strategy 3: Know Exactly What You Need to Do, and Do It
Liesl Testwuide (HairpinTurnsAhead.com) says:
As a writer and single mom of three boys who own a drum set, I require a continuous supply of Diet Coke, noise-reducing headphones, and a large walk-in closet that locks to gather my thoughts and form cohesive sentences.
How do you make time to write? Do you have a room of your own, a block of time, or do you make the time in the margins, like I do? Share your experience in the comments.