Friday, July 19, 2013

Finding Time for Writing

Writers complain about: rejections, securing an agent, how to build a platform, inspiration and motivation but mostly about finding time to write. How do you fit in writing when your spouse is complaining that you seldom have time for him any more because you always want to write? Your friends have stopped calling because you brush them off saying you are working on your novel. Your tennis group finally dropped you because you missed so many practices and matches.

There are 168 hours in a week. Business sites tell us these figures for the average person.*
EAT-------10.53 hours/week on the average
SLEEP--- 56.00 hours/week (@ 8 hours/night)
WORK----40.00 hours/week
               (106.53) 107 hours

Add in: time to shower and dress, get to and from work, buy and prepare food and spend time with your family. Let's round time off to say these activities all take 17 hours more/week = 124 hours/week reserved.

This calculation leaves 44 hours for everything else you want to do. If you exercise for fitness or for fun, attend religious services, entertain, participate in a hobby, provide general house maintenance (cleaning and/or repairing), no wonder there is little time to write!

A writer can do different things to maximize his writing time. Prioritization is paramount to juggling all aspects of your life successfully and with fulfillment. Sit down and make a list of your priorities. Block out in each day, hours that are filled with 'have-to" and "want to." These will include the activities of daily living, hobbies like tennis practice and matches, choir practice, walking the dog, etc. The blank spaces represent what time you have left to write. Some tough decisions need to be made. Would you rather play tennis or write? Build furniture or write?  Knit for charity and family or write? Look at what you do and decide what is important to you. Realize that knitting, tennis, hand bell chorus, or bowling are priorities for you and accept the fact that you have only 3+ hours a week to write or whatever number you figure.

If you want to bump up your writing time, it means you must drop something. Drop out of the tennis league and substitute running 2 miles a day for fitness. Put aside knitting for several months to allow you time to work on your writing. The biggest component of this plan is to not feel guilty about what you are putting aside. If there are major changes in your schedule, explain to your family what you are doing and you need their help on more chores or that you will need their help cooking on Saturdays, so you can freeze meals for the week. Maybe a child is old enough to take care of the dog including daily walks. You may have to take a temporary leave from a volunteer position in order to write. Another solution could be to get up earlier or stay up later 45 minutes every day to write.

One of my favorite tips for better time management is to use GAP minutes. Those are the minutes you waste standing in line at the drug store, waiting at your child's tennis or ballet lesson, for a meeting to start, a boring speech to end, while at the dentist, doing a mindless task like folding clothes or cooking, or get the idea. During those five or thirty minutes, you could observe people (their habit, dress, mannerisms, facial features, ways they walk); you could look at the landscape and memorize details; listen to conversations to detect local dialogue, speech patterns, how people phrase things; or watch how people interact with animals or rude people. 

Keep a notebook, any size, with you and jot down these impressions. Put the notes in your writing space and use them to build your characters or conjure up some complex scene for your novel. Use the attitude of people in the airport toward a war veteran to evoke emotion in a person in your sub plot. Look through your notes for the perfect details of the hubbub of the train depot in the morning. All these observations are fodder for your creative writing. Having notes makes your writing easier and faster. All you need to refresh yourself about the smell of the subway were your notes about the harassed youth trying to get onto the train to bring reality into your scene about taking your dog on the tube in London.

It is up to you to determine how you spend your time. Do you want to make more time for writing or do you just want lack of time as your excuse for not writing? Think about how you can use your time most effectively. Act to change things in your life or give up writing but do not whine about something you can change.




Prasant Saxsena said...

Oh yes!! aside knitting for several months to allow you time to work on your writing.

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Anna said...

Good post Jennifer. I have decided to take off the week to write and finish my book on PTS. Even though I am home I am pretending I am out of town. That means my husband screens my calls. I make no appointments. I get roasted chicken from the grocery store for dinner and our son and daughter in law keep the dog for the week.

Jennifer Rova said...

Anna, good luck on completing your book! Your choice to isolate yourself sounds like a technique that works for you. Your dedication will bring satisfaction in many ways. Wish there was a writers' equivalent to actors "break a leg."

Elizabeth S. Brinton said...

Break your pencil tip? Run out of ink? Break your keyboard? Erase your fingerprints? Yes, we should have our own saying. I love Anna's idea of pretending to be out of town.

Kathy Cooney Dobbs said...

Hmm. Let's see, more time for writing means less time playing Words with Friends ! Thanks for another good post, Jennifer