Many of us are finding it challenging to find enough time to do all the things we want and need to. Unfortunately, at least for me, it’s often the writing that ends up coming in second.
Ironically, there is no shortage of books about this: how to deal with the issue of both finding the time but also a space to write.
Personally I am not a fan of “help” books, although I have come across a few that make at least some valid points, and various writing exercises can help when you’re feeling stuck.
But knowing how other writers deal with the time and space issue can give you tools to increase your own productivity and find your own optimal working space and time.
Writing about myself – things I’ve found
Some of the things I have found out about myself:
- I can only write at home when it’s dark outside, by candlelight, and it’s preferably raining – I find too many shoulds during the day (dishes, laundry, lunch, coffee breaks).
- I need distractions – cafes, museums, parks; pretty much any place where I can look up and space out, and listen to conversations (which can be good for inspiration!) while I’m thinking about words or what’s next in the story.
- Some people say to write 30 minutes every morning, but I’m just not going to get up at 5:30am to write, and if I did it would be rubbish anyway. However, if I work on a short story I can usually do so effectively during my lunch break for 30-40 minutes.
- Although I don’t mind writing by long hand, it annoys me to have to type it up later, plus I like to be able to edit as I write, but buying another new laptop isn’t going to make me more productive.
- I run 4-5 times a week, and I often use this hour to think about next steps, chapters, edits so I can count this time as work and not feel guilty for not working.
- Workshops are invaluable. They give me deadlines, I get my work critiqued, I edit other people’s work and that teaches me things about my own writing.
- I use the weight of my laptop as an excuse not to go somewhere to write.
And there we finally have it, the culprit – excuses. Even if you’re good at it, writing is hard work, and it’s especially hard when you have other things you want to achieve too.
So how do you do it?
I have no idea. But I am determined to find a way to get through the obstacle course of excuses.
Right now I’m a writing retreat of sorts – I’m not in the countryside but am in the city that is the home of my happiness. I have taken four weeks off to write, and have removed myself from my normal environment.
Writing as a job
I’m treating writing as my job, even though my hours are fairly flexible – I try to work on a words per day basis, or finish an edit of a chapter in a day.
Reasonable and achievable goals but still enough that I have to work to get there.
Writing on the move
I move around like a nomad, always carrying my laptop – a few hours in the library (it’s too cold to spend more than 1 ½ hours there before both fingers and brain freezes), a café, a diner.
As soon as I sit down I take my laptop out and I do something. Like writing this – it’s not part of my novel, but I’m creating something and can say I have done work today.
To be productive and motivated on a daily basis, to even just get up in the middle of the night when an idea snaps you out of sleep and you just want to write now is a great feeling.
But for me, the big test is when my four weeks are up and I’m back in London with my very heavy laptop…