|Image courtesy of Stuart Miles|
For me, I work a day job where I write and edit all day long. As a copywriter for a nonprofit, I'm busy penning words for other people. That can be tiring if I allow it to be. Part of my personal battle is to maintain balance and keep myself refreshed and in a good place mentally daily, so that I have the energy to write my own work in the evenings.
But even when I take care of myself, life has a way of getting in the way. At the moment, I have set the goal of finishing Nanowrimo with 50,000 words by November 30, to finish my novel draft by end of December, and to edit and get it out to publishers/agents in March. This is a reasonable goal for where I'm at in my novel right now. Yet life has rolled in with an outpatient procedure for me that pushed some of my other projects into backlog, a broken cell phone that took hours to resolve, unexpected day job deadlines that required me to put in extra hours, a trip to the ER with a sick friend, a planned outpatient procedure for that friend, some freelance deadlines that I expected to have met by now...
You get it. I'm not complaining. I'm just saying that even the best of planners are forced to pants sometimes because life is fond of forcing you to pants. And I mean in every area of your life, not just writing.
So, how do we resist the tide that pulls us away from our writing shore?
- It starts with attitude and determination. Do we want to write so much that we can't let it go? Hunger to write is vital. And it's something we have to maintain daily. If you're reading this blog, you probably consider yourself a writer. So, take a little time each day to think about your passion for writing. Remind yourself how much you love it, why you want to do it, where you want to end up, and how it felt the last time you wrote something that made you feel proud and satisfied with your gift. Let that drive you to find time to write today. And then repeat the process tomorrow. And tomorrow. And tomorrow.
- Know what you do with your time. We all find time to do things we don't necessarily have to do, like watching TV or getting up for a second cup of coffee. And it is all too easy to waste time without even thinking about it. Half the battle is just to be aware of where your time is being spent. Get into the habit of asking yourself what you want to do with your next hour. Check in mentally with your daily goals every so often and ask yourself what really needs to get done today and what can wait until tomorrow. When I make that evaluation, I often realize that tomorrow is an even better day to get that errand done, so I really do have time to write today.
- Be prepared to write anytime, anywhere. I have a friend, Kristin Nador, whose blog title is Write Anywhere. I'll link to her blog below. Her idea is to write in different places as a challenge to herself, but you can adopt the idea as a tool to fitting in time to write in a busy schedule. I do it by taking at least a small pad of paper with me everywhere I go, plus I carry a flash drive with copies of my current projects on it. If it's a slow hour at work, out comes the flash drive. If I get an idea while driving, I jot it down at the next stop light. You can even use your smart phone to capture notes or an actual piece of writing and then email it to yourself.
- Don't beat yourself up if all you could do was fit in 15 minutes, or 100 words. Personally, I've had to learn to pace myself. Writing a novel is a long-term goal. Short-term goals of finishing a chapter a week or 1500 words a day may be helpful, but there will be days when you can't make it happen. Instead of looking at it negatively, look at it positively. On a particularly tough day, if you managed to get 500 words down in spite of everything that conspired against you, it's an achievement. Enjoy it as a victory, because it is. And the positive outlook will help you be energized to write the next day.
Well, those are some things that are working for me. Have you tried any of these ideas before? How well have they worked for you? Let me know in the comments below, or chat with me on The Chipper Muse on Facebook or Twitter about it. I'd love to hear from you!
Links I mentioned above:
Managing Your Time When You're Busy
Finding Time to Write: Guest Post by James Garcia Jr.
Kristin Nador Writes Anywhere blog
Copyright (c) 2012 by M.A. Chiappetta. All rights reserved.