Recently I had to face several changes at workplace. They meant having to put in more hours at work. It has become harder to find quality family time, let alone leisure. In this upheaval, guess what got pushed to the bottom of the priority list? Writing.
We are often told: Just write. But finding time and inspiration is the hardest thing to deal with if you are not a full time writer. So this post is mainly for people who are struggling to handle writing as a secondary career.
It’s relatively easy to stare at a blank screen, munching popcorn or nibbling cookies, when you have the whole day stretching out in front of you. Ideas pour in with speed, in a relaxed mind. But when you are feeling frazzled, forgetting which lid to put on which jar, running behind on daily chores, should you give up writing?
Well, I don’t plan to. I’m going to take some time off it certainly, but not too much. When you are busy, even when you get the time, it’s hard to feel inspired to write. A movie or even channel surfing is far easier on the mind than facing the nerve wracking ordeal of world building, character charting or smoothing out plot holes.
Sometimes I feel Just Write is a piece of advice that wasn’t meant for me. Have you had those days? It’s okay for experienced writers to say show up at your desk like writing is a job. But when you can’t wade through ‘life things’ to even get to the desk? What then?
Let’s face it. Writing takes time to become profitable. If you don’t have the luxury of not having to work, with the present publishing scene you can’t just quit your job to write. Writing isn’t like any other career change. It requires patience and luck.
I have been thinking about all this when my routine went haywire. Here’s what I have found to make writing work for me.
Get in the mood.
It’s best to have your writing corner marked out. Have some space that is just for writing. When you have just half an hour or fifteen minutes, you don’t want to spend it looking for your laptop and searching for your inspiration board. The second reason the writing corner is useful is it sends out a clear message of Do not Disturb. In time, your family will learn to respect that and give you more of those precious writing minutes.
Connect with nature. Walk. Even stroll. Take some time to listen to the bird song and eye the green colour. There is a reason why they say green is restful. It allows you to go back to the wild where we all came from. When the demands of civilisation impose, take a few minutes to escape and smell the roses. Or even lilies. Or hibicus. Take your pick. It will boost your creativity by nourishing your subconscious.
Read. It’s very important to let the thoughts of other authors, their story craft or even the sentence structure to seep into your mind. It allows you to pick out words which you want when you want them. It helps you to hone your characters and your story craft.
Discipline. Are you reaching out for the candy crush icon on your phone more than for the keyboard? It’s okay to be mindless once in a while but don’t get sucked into laziness. Give yourself a pep talk and open your wip file. Don’t give yourself the excuse of just one more try. Or ten minutes more on social media. You need to get writing Now.
Don’t add to your stress. Don’t make unrealistic goals. If you can hardly make time to write, there’s no point in creating a deadline for yourself. If you are busy, give yourself points for even 250 words per day. You’ll be surprised how they add up. Or you can do what I did. Took up editing of an old work. If you’re feeling too rushed to write, take time to hone your editing skills. Always handy to have them.
Establish a routine. Routine are the best way to get things done. If you write 500 words after lunch for a week, you’ll find yourself doing it automatically. Pick a time when you are likely to be undisturbed. Stick to it.
Think of it as an escape. When life gets overwhelmingly busy, writing can offer a beautiful calmness. Don’t make it into a chore. Rather think of it as taking time off and putting your feet up. Don’t go after serious earthshaking plots. Learn to enjoy and narrate whatever pops into your mind. You can chisel and carve later.
Hope this will help the writer in the busy person you have become to emerge from hiding.
What are your tips to get going when life gets busy? How do you balance ‘life’ things with writing time?