By: Crystal Garnett
If you are like me, the time you get to set aside to write is precious and you want it to count. Very few of us have the luxury of being a writer full time. We have other jobs, family, friends, and responsibilities that vie for our attention. And truthfully, I wouldn’t trade those things for the world. But, it can be hard to carve out a small chunk of time to write on a regular basis. So, when I do, I want those moments to count.
Often, by the time I have a chance to sit down and write, I have so many different parts to my story that I want to get down in words. And the harsh reality is that I probably will not get it all out in the time allotted. The scenes in my head play out much quicker than my fingers can glide across the keys, and I am a pretty quick typer.
So, how do you make those times count? How do you capture the inspiration when it comes? I think there are a few simple things you can do to help maximize your writing time.
1. Find a place that is distraction free. For me, this means my most productive time is after my kids go to sleep or before they wake up. I know that when they are up, my mommy hat is going to be firmly in place and it will be hard for me to focus. I also don’t do well with a lot of noise and chaos around me. So super public places or around loud music is not a good writing place for me. However, some people work best in those environments. My husband is like this. He can throw on some heavy metal music and bust out a writing assignment no problem. In fact, I think he works better that way than in perfect silence. So, find out what your distractions are and aim to remove them as best as possible.
2. Pick a good time of day- I personally am not a morning person and my writing suffers when I try to get up too early to write. I know that my most functional and creative times are in the evening. I love the quiet of the evening and find that I write best when I can settle down with a cup of tea and a warm blanket. So, that is my ideal time to write. Others I have known say that the early morning hours are their best and they find great peace in the stillness that proceeds the day. While still others find that writing throughout the day is best for them. Whatever it is, find your best time of day and try to carve out some time then to write.
3. Make short notes- For me, this has come in really handy on those days when I have four or five different ideas bouncing around in my head, but only enough time to get one on paper. Before I start working on that one scene, I will take a few short notes about the other scenes that I know I won’t get to that day. Nothing fancy, just some short phrases that describe what I am thinking. Mostly I use these as a reminder tool. I write down just enough to jog my memory and will refer back to them later when I have more time to write.
4. Don’t worry about editing as you go- when time is tight and you have more ideas than time to write them down, leave the editing for later. Don’t stress about typos and grammatical errors at this time. Just get the ideas down. Get the story written. There will be a season for editing. In fact, this is a great thing to save for those days when the ideas just aren’t flowing and you have nothing new to add. I find that on those days, I go back and edit my previous work and often inspiration comes quickly.
5. Turn your phone onto “Do Not Disturb” mode- most phones have this option, though perhaps called a different name. You can turn it onto “Do Not Disturb” mode and silence all the random dings and chimes that can easily pull you away. I know on my phone there is the option to select certain contacts that I want to allow to contact me when this mode is set. So, I can list the most important people whose calls and texts I would not wish to miss, but still silence the random junk mail alert, the Facebook notifications, and other such less important notifications. This allows me a time of uninterrupted writing. Because, I don’t know about you, but when that ding comes on my phone telling me someone has commented on a post, I just have this immense urge to pick it up and see what that person said. Then that leads to rabbit trails and I don’t get as much work done. If your phone doesn’t have a “Do Not Disturb” mode, then consider putting it on silent and setting a time limit before you check it again. For example, check it every 15 min or so, but tell yourself you will only respond to the most necessary things. Everything else will have to wait.
These of course are just suggestions. Take them or leave them, it’s up to you. But the idea here is to make your writing a priority, if only for a short time that you have carved out of your schedule. If you are anything like me, the passion you feel for your writing will drive you crazy if it doesn’t have an outlet. So, don’t be afraid to make it an important part of your life. Carve out some time, even just 30 minutes, guilt free and dedicated to making that time the most productive it can be.
There will always be a million different things vying for your attention. Some of those things, like family and work, are worth it. Others are less important and can justifiably take a backseat to your writing. Finding the right priorities for your life will help you be the best writer you can be. So, don’t be afraid to tell those lesser things that tug at you to wait their turn, you’ve got a story to write!