Wednesday, February 9, 2011

No Time to Write?

What? No time to write??
Waking up this morning, you had every intention in the bright new day of writing after work. You've made notes throughout the afternoon and the prospect of pounding them out on your keyboard kept you motivated to trudge on.

Then life happened: Your spouse can't pick up the kids, a co-worker left early handing you their share of the load, your boss asks if the latest project he gave you yesterday is finished. Heartburn warms up and your head pounds. Something has to give way as reality sets in. You determine, as usual, that something is your writing time.

Any of this sound familiar? Welcome to life! Whether you write for hobby and relaxation, or goals and achievement, all of us at one time or another face the challenge of creating time to sit and write. How can we create a schedule when so many other things take priority?

I'm going to offer ten simple ideas that will help squeeze writing into your crazy schedules. (if you have time saving ideas, please share them!)

1. Plan quick and easy dinners. Crock-pots are an absolute must for the time saver! Throw in all the ingredients turn it on low and come home to an aroma filled home that will provide an immediate dinner. On days off or non-writing nights, make extra food that can freeze for use later in the week.

2. Adhere to a writing schedule. Treat your writing time like you would a doctor's appointment. For example, say you plan to write every evening from 7 PM – 10 PM. Letting your friends and family know that time is off-limits will help you commit to a specified writing schedule. They'll know you're available before or after, but either way they'll take your writing time as serious as you do.

3. Plan. Safeguard your precious writing time:

a) Keep your idea journal next to you and write them all in one place, so you don't go searching for that napkin from lunch you scribbled on.

b) Always keep your writing space and accessories easily accessible. Don't waste your precious scheduled time digging around for a needed file. Try to keep it all in one place.

c) Establish a routine so everything surrounding your writing time is streamlined and efficient.

4. Days off. If you have to miss a few days from writing, don't beat yourself up about it and get discouraged. Use the time to your advantage by planning a more intense writing session. Then instead of feeling bad about not writing, you can feel good knowing that you made the best of a less than ideal situation.

5. Make writing a priority. When you leave your writing time as an option for time usage, you'll rarely find time to write. If you don't let your family, friends, and fellow employees know that your writing time is a priorty, they won't treat it as one—and won't hesitate to infringe upon it.

6. Your daily schedule. To free up time to write, wake up an hour earlier. Use that time to get a jump on your daily chores, or head into work early to get ahead of the game. If you're a morning person, write! The advantages include a calm sense of being before the family starts the AM jitterbug; reduced exterior noises (cars, lawnmowers, etc.); and the satisfaction of knowing you've done your writing no matter what else comes into your day.

7. Negotiate with family and friends. Trade favors for writing time! Tell your spouse if he'll watch the kids for a few hours three days a week, you'll take over on the weekends so he can play golf or hang with the boys. Tell friends you'll watch their kids for a few hours over the weekend, if they'll watch yours one night after work.

8. Get help. Since your objective is to find time blocks for writing—which translates into hours—think about what takes those blocks away from your day, then wrangle a way for someone else to handle them. For instance, bring your lunch to work every day, and apply the money you save toward hiring a twice monthly house cleaning service. If you're a stay at home mom with little kids, hire a "mother's helper" (a 12 to 15 year old) for a few hours. They cost less than a regular sitter and you'll be there just in case of a meltdown.

9. Get help, part 2. Scrutinize chores to see what could be eliminated or handled on a less regular basis. Such as: Have your kids vacuum and dust so you can sit and write!

10. Writing time is quality time. There's a limited time to write, so minimize those gab sessions on instant messaging and Facebook. Make the decision to catch up on email later. All that socializing eats up your valuable time. And we writers have our priorities!

What are some of the issues you face, and what advice can you offer others?


Anonymous said...

Wonderful post and excellent advice, I think this will help a great many of us newbies... : )

Zee Monodee said...

Very good tips, Sheri!

I'd also suggest having something you can write on always with you. For me it's my phone - it can also be a notebook. Make good use of waiting for the kids to get to the car, in the waiting room for a doctor's appointment, standing in line for the groceries, commuting.

And something else - once you have a writing time, don't wait for the muse to strike! That's an excuse - some days the writing will be amazing. If you want to emulate that every single day, that's just not possible. There will be days when writing will be like pulling teeth - just write. You can edit words, not a blank page.

Sheri Fredricks said...

Emma Paul: Thank you for stopping by! I know your career is taking off right now and I appreciate your words.

Sheri Fredricks said...

Hi Zee :) I totally forgot about a notepad!! Ugh! Maybe if I had a notepad with me while I was thinking suggestions up, I would have remembered... Thank you for stopping by.

Kaycee Kacer said...

I hear you on this. Something always manages to come up. I was so stressed last year trying to work two jobs, be the housewife for my fiance, study for my CPA exams (which they say should be an 8 hr a day thing) AND write. First I tried to give up writing, but the looming exams just stressed me too much and not writing or having time to read or spend time with my fiance, friends and family, really depressed me. So I flipped it, I gave up studying, giving my brain a break (probably for at least a year) and brought back writing. Now it's a matter of forcing myself to sit down and do it. THough I am getting better at it. I got two crockpots for christmas so I'm planning on going grocery shopping this weekend because I also got a crockpot recipe book and am planning on making meals that way. It really is a matter of saying HEY THIS IS MY TIME and stick to it when you have other obligations hanging over your head, and now I'm adding a wedding into the mix (though I'm extremely super excited for that!) Either way, I've found more writing time for myself (just wish I could write in the bath without dropping a notebook or my laptop into it lol) and am finally finished with my first ms and have half of my second one plotted. It's really exciting.

Sheri Fredricks said...

KK: I remember your anguish over the decision of how to NOT go crazy with your plate piling up. And getting a larger plate wasn't the answer! I'm so happy you found balance in your life, and with your organization skills I doubt throwing wedding plans into the mix will offset the scale. Congratulations on that! I loved my wedding and know you'll love yours too. I used to scuba dive quite a bit and we had "pads", if you will, to write on underwater. It's mostly a whiteboard type thing with a grease pencil. And it works in the shower & bath! I've left *ahem* messages for my hubby before . Bet you can find one used at a dive shop...

Brenda said...

*smacks forehead* MY CROCK POT! Damn, I forgot I had one. What a great idea!!!
Great post Sheri. Loads of awesome tips. I carry a note pad in my car. I do a lot of brainstorming while I'm waiting to pick my son up from school.

Brenda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martha Ramirez said...

Another awesome post! Lots of great advice. Thanks so much for sharing, Sheri:)

Sheri Fredricks said...

Oh Brendan, you're so funny! Here's a super easy & yummy crock pot recipe. Take a chunk of some inexpensive meat (I used london broil), brown it with some flour, spray the inside of the crock pot with nonstick coating, stick it in there with a jar of salsa. Add some beer if you like. And put some in the pot too. lol Turn on low for 6 hours or so. Botta-bing. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Sheri Fredricks said...

You're welcome, Mart. And thank you for stopping by.

Nahno McLein said...

I agree with Zee.
It also helps me to have a certain daily schedule. It's incorporated in the routine and less likely to be affected by mates and worldly happenings.
Nahno ∗ McLein

Anonymous said...

Great list of ideas. I use the crockpot a lot.

Sheri Fredricks said...

Nahno: You & Zee are spot on! Too many times I allow MY writing time to slip and let life slice into it. Hanging tough to your schedule is the most important part of writing. Thanks for bring it up and stopping by!

Sheri Fredricks said...

Susanne: I found baking recipes online for the crockpot! LOL I love mine.