How do you find the time to write in your busy day?
That is the $64,000 question, isn't it? The truth is that I don't "find the time." I FIGHT for it. I wrest it from the jaws of dangerous beasts with my bare hands. I hack it from the calendar with a machete. I steal it, then run away and gobble it up in secret.
Well, maybe it's not that dramatic, but it is a struggle. I have a day job, a family, a husband, a dog, a house…all things that covet and demand my time and attention. They're all also things I love and value, that I *want* to spend time on and with, unlike the housework and grocery shopping, which I'm happy to push aside for writing.
But I do have a daily writing habit (I'm a Magic Spreadsheet devotee) and it HAS made a huge difference in my productivity and happiness. So, here's how I got there:
1. Household meeting: If you share your living space with others humans, you're going to need to have a direct talk about "writing time." At La Casa Bryant, this amounted to a family meeting where I announced my intentions to write every day and told them I would need support in the form of "alone time" to do that. I was tired of packing up and going to coffee shops and libraries and wanted to do my writing at home.
We planned together to figure out when would be the most workable time for us. That ended up being 8:30 at night at first, with my husband and older daughter agreeing to deal with the younger daughter's needs if any arose after her 8:00 bedtime. It wasn't ideal for me, as I was often physically and mentally weary by then, but it was better than nothing and I started writing at least 250 words a day (now I'm up to 800ish on school days and 2000 on non-school days most of the time).
|Disclaimer: Not my actual sink, though it is sometimes this bad.|
2. Work space: I wanted to be able to write at home, but that was hard at first. At home, you have to discipline yourself to ignore all the other pulls of home. I'm pretty good at writing among chaos and noise of certain sorts, so it works for me most of the time, and when it doesn't, I shut myself in the bedroom where I can close the door on everyone else. There's no home office space available for me without moving, so I adapted.
For a while, I had to go out. But I had less control of my environment in coffeeshops and libraries and, even with headphones, had interruptions and pulls of my attention that cost me writing time. After all, I can't insist that other coffee shop patrons talk more quietly or sit further away like I can with my family. Plus I had to spend time getting there and back instead of just popping open the laptop and going.
3. Mental space: This part was hard for me. I'm a mom and a middle school teacher, so generally that means my own needs and wants are very very last on the list of priorities. So, step one for me was to convince myself that it was okay to insist on having this time. I couldn't utilize my writing time well if my head was full of guilt and to-do lists, so I had to learn to set that aside, at least for an hour at a time.
Now I know I'm a better wife and mother when I get my writing time because I get that release and don't resent my family for keeping me from it. In fact, if I'm cranky, they might recommend that I "go write for a while."
4. Sacrifices: There are only so many hours in the day. So, if you're going to add regular writing time, you probably have to give something up. For me, that was television. I don't like it that much anyway, so it wasn't too painful. My own stories do more for my soul, even while they are beating me up in the process. I save up television time for summer vacation and then Netflix to my heart's content (I had almost eight weeks this summer--it's not the nice long break it used to be when I started teaching, but I'm still glad to have it). But that gave me back 1-2 hours a day to use in other ways. You'd be surprised what I can do with 1-2 hours a day.
So, there's my story. What's yours? How do you arrange your life to leave room for writing or other creative pursuits?
If you're not already following #IWSG (Insecure Writer's Support Group), you should really check it out. The monthly blog hop is a panoply of insight into the writing life at all stages of hobby and career. Search the hashtag in your favorite social media venue and you'll find something interesting on the first Wednesday of every month.