Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Finding Time to Write

Being successful as a writer sometimes comes down to one thing.

Butt in chair, hands on keyboard. Or for those who love acronyms, BICHOK.

Easy, right?  Maybe not.  Finding that perfect time when you’re calm and ready to go may be impossible based on your lifestyle.  Or your choices.

When a co-worker came to me to complain about her supervisor harping on her, I let her vent for a while, then asked, “How did you choose to feel after she said that?”

Dumbfounded, the woman explained, she wasn't choosing to feel a certain way, the supervisor made her feel that way.

I beg to differ.  No one can make you feel anything.  You do that all on your own.

So, what’s choosing got to do with finding time to write?  Everything.

Make a list of what you’ll do today, heck, plan it out for the week.  Then go over the list.  Is there room, even thirty minutes where you can sit and write (either on a computer or longhand?)If yes, congrats, go forth and write during that found time.

If not, then let’s look at your list.

Some things, like work, commute, meals, sleep, are pretty mandatory.  I know my job counts on me to show up every day, so, I do.  Mostly because I like the paycheck.  But could I change my commute? Could I ride the train into work or move closer to save a few minutes on each end of the day?  Or could I carpool and take the days when I’m not driving as my personal writing time? 

Sleep, I won’t tell you to mess with that.  I do love my eight hours.  But maybe you could get up early one day a week or thirty minutes early on workdays. Whatever you carve out, don’t let the internet or a chatty neighbor take your time.  Be ruthless.

What else is on your list?  Volunteer work? Television?  Working out?  Making gourmet dinners every night?  Baking your own bread?

If your list is long, maybe you have to consider if you really want to write or not?  Volunteering is great karma, unless it eats up your personal time and you aren't getting BICHOK time. But they need me.  I can hear the cry now.  So does your manuscript.

I’m going the kill two birds route and limiting my television time to only time I’m working out.  If my butt’s not on the exercise bike, no television. And I can move that time to my writing. 

What are you willing to give up to finish your novel this year?  



Cait OSullivan said...

well I'm a single mum so I'm concentrating on writing as opposed to dating! Having an ongoing WIP ready to be contracted is so much more satisfactory in the long term LOL.

RT Wolfe said...

I feel I have the right to say you can find time if you truly want it. (please don't throw tomatoes at me-lol) But is the cost worth it? I say,'yes,' but I also don't think everyone should. What a thinker today, Lynn!
-R.T. Wolfe

Morgan Mandel said...

I am so guilty. I should write first, then check my email and social sites.

Morgan Mandel

Carol Kilgore said...

I get up early. And give up worrying about how our house looks.

Gail Chianese said...

Excellent post and point. Recently a friend gave me a writing tool: a cup that reads: Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the internet.

I agree, way too much time is spent on FB & Twitter and I'm willing to give them both up (or at least cut them way back..if only agents & editors didn't care about social media!)

Lynn Cahoon said...

I'm home, I can post....

Cait - love the giving up dating idea. Your true love will find you no matter what. (Sorry, romance writer in me slipped.)

RT - Sometimes I wonder about the cost - But on the other hand, I have a five (now four year plan.)

Morgan, it's the discipline...I like the immediacy of the social media.

Hi Carol - For me - early morning is best too.

Gail - LOVE your cup.

Cozy in Texas said...

I find the more my calendar is packed then the more writing I can fit in because there is no room for procrastination. If I have five minutes, I write.

Elizabeth Meyette said...

I sometimes write "writing day" on my calendar and hold it sacred. It's like having a savings account and paying yourself first.

Elke Feuer said...

Great post! I just adjusted my schedule to limit social networking time (I was recently promoting my book) and using that time to work on the two book I want to get out this year.

I also write during my lunchtime.

Lynn Cahoon said...

Cozy - I love that mentality. You write because you're busy and you know you have to. :)

Hi Betty - I love having writing days set aside. And, yes, it's a discipline, just like savings.

Good job Elke! - I know that the social marketing time suck called promoting can drain you of creative energy.

Shay Lacy said...

I thought I'd given up everything else to write, but reading these comments, I have more to give. LOL

Lynn Cahoon said...

You can always give a little more Shay! LOL

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Fitting everything into the day isn't easy. Wait until you get old like me and you'll see that it gets even harder.

Lynn Cahoon said...

LOL Marilyn.

Radine Trees Nehring said...

Brilliant, Lynn, and a problem most all serious writers have these days, not to mention all the folks (quite often women) trying to fit work time, family time, and (where did it go?) a bit of me-time into a week. I am still learning how to handle this myself. And as to sitting down to write? At a talk given at an OWFI (Oklahoma Writer's Federation, Inc) conference a few years back, the speaker began by handing all of the hundred-some people in her session a button. That was to remind us -- YUP, BUTT ON Chair!
By the way, OWFI is a very large conference held in central Oklahoma every May. It runs three tracks for two days, and draws authors and wanna-be's from many central USA states--Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Kansas, and of course Oklahoma being primary. www.OWFI.org