Finding Time To Write

(Cross-posted from the WriteClub blog)

I complain frequently about how difficult it is to fit writing time in around the day job.

It is rare for me to have a day I can dedicate completely to writing, as all my weekdays are spent at work and my weekends are then spent doing those chores I don’t have time to do during the week.

This time of year, however, I usually have about ten days off work. Even accounting for the madness of the Christmas festivities, that still gives me several days I can spend at home, dedicated entirely to writing if I chose to do so.

But do I get more writing done on those days? Sadly, no. If I spend the day at home, I find too many distractions. I waste time watching TV or playing computer games. When I do put my butt in the chair in front of the computer, I find myself stopping to make myself endless cups of tea, or wandering off in search of biscuits. Or one of the cats will come along and sit on my keyboard, making it rather difficult to get any typing done.

I seem to function better with the pressure of deadlines. Those mornings I crawl out of bed at 5:30am to sit in Starbucks for an hour before work I get more words written than I do sitting at home for an afternoon. Knowing I’ve only got an hour makes me obliged to write the words. If I know I’ve got six hours with nothing more important to do, the pressure is off and I’m much more inclined to get sidetracked doing something less important.

It seems I’m not yet disciplined enough to be a full time writer. I’m only an effective writer when I have deadlines. When I know my writing time is limited, I have to get on and do it.

Perhaps there’s some truth to the old saying, “if you want something done, give it to a busy person”. And perhaps I should stop whingeing about not having any time. When I have time, I am more inclined to waste it. When my time is limited, I make better use of it.

So I shall keep up my early-morning writing sessions, because they are proving to be the most effective time to write. I shall endeavour to complain less about not having any time. After all, we all have the same number of hours in our day. It’s how we use them – there’s the trick.

Perhaps one day I shall be ready to be a full-time writer. Until that time, I’ve got a lot more to learn about discipline.

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1 comment so far

  1. Nerine Dorman on

    I totally agree with the “give it to a busy person”. Here’s my day:

    6am. Get up. Feed animals and husband. Pick up cat poo.
    7.20am: One editing/writing cycle lasting an hour’s train journey to work.
    8.30am to 12.45pm: Slave for newspaper publisher.
    12.45pm to 2pm: another hour editing/writing cycle
    2pm to 5pm: Slave for newspaper publisher.
    5.15pm to 6.30pm: read review books and meditate on train.
    7pm: Domestic goddess duties (including picking up cat poo).
    9pm to midnight (or into the earlier hours): two editing/writing cycles plus social networking.

    Welcome to my world.

    I have at least two small press releases each year. This is excluding my four quarterly newsletters I edit and lay out for The Egyptian Society of South Africa (pro bono work) and the behind-the-scenes and editorial writing I do for BlackMilk Productions (also pro bono).

    Also, bear in mind that I am a freelance travel writer (unpaid).

    Also, I have at least one or two “serious” novels as WiP or revisionary manuscripts while all the rest goes on.

    I run the annual Bloody Parchment reading event/short story competition under the auspices of the SA HorrorFest.

    Disclaimer: I do not have children. I am also completely stark-raving crazy, have a nasty caffeine habit and, on weekends, am known for my excesses when it comes to martinis and margaritas, or red wine.


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