by Irene Vartanoff
There is plenty of advice available on how to write, but if you are juggling family and job responsibilities, how can you find the time?
No matter how busy you are, it is possible to carve an hour or more out of the day for writing. The trick is to focus on your writing goal and rearrange the rest of your life around it. And to write every day. Here are seven suggestions for how to make writing the most important part of your day:
- Construct an urgency to your writing project. If you are writing without an immediate prospect of selling, it’s easy to take forever to finish. Join an Internet writing challenge, vow to enter a contest that has an entry deadline, or simply create an arbitrary deadline. Then write as much as you can as fast as you can to meet your deadline. If you tell family and friends about the deadline, you’ll have less trouble getting them to honor your temporary change of focus from them to yourself.
- Decide on an arbitrary daily word count. This is a favorite of Internet challenges, and it works. Figure out the total word count of your project, divide by the number of days until the deadline, and you’ll get a daily word goal to reach. Just keep it sensible. If you don’t know how fast you can write, start with a goal of under 1,000 words a day. The idea is to make the daily goal possible to attain. Then each day that you reach your word goal will motivate you for the next.
- Plan to write at a certain hour each day. Make an appointment with yourself and stick to it. Get up an hour earlier or stay up an hour later. Or rearrange your daily schedule to add writing to it. And plan to write in relatively short spurts of an hour or two. Your writing will be the fresher for it, plus it’s easier to take an hour here or there out of a day than to take a big chunk of time.
- Guard yourself against sabotage. Decide that your writing time will not be ambushed by others. Apply the only-if-there-is-blood rule: meaning do not interrupt me unless someone is injured. Pleas to come watch television to keep someone else company should be ignored. Your writing should be your priority for that hour. If you must use a shared computer, save your work often and use a password, create backup media, and remove them to a safe place after each session.
- Do not voluntarily interrupt yourself. Don’t stop in the middle of your designated writing time to answer a phone call. You can always screen the message or check Caller ID and then pick up if you need to. Don’t sit down to write and then decide to surf the web or rearrange your home office or dust the top of the computer. Write. There are few tasks that can’t be postponed for an hour while you write. Plumbing emergencies are the exception.
- Pay attention to when during the day your brain is most alert. Some people wake up groggy and it takes hours for thinking to kick in. If you have the time to write but not the brain, this is when you schedule low-performance tasks: spell-checking your manuscript, researching bits you threw in the day before but hadn’t verified, and making sure that your last words of the previous day aren’t incoherent. Are you wide awake late at night? Then let others go to bed, and set aside that time to write. You’ll write better and faster when your brain is in high gear.
- It’s easier to write in a quiet place. But it’s not necessary. You need some uninterrupted thinking time for planning (try the bathroom late at night), but actual writing can be done in the middle of a busy family room as long as you focus. You can also write while on the sidelines at children’s games, or waiting at the doctor’s office, or taking public transportation. Or while sitting by a fountain on your lunch hour. Wherever you are is the perfect place to write if your goal is to get it done.
If you follow these suggestions, you can accomplish much more writing than you ever dreamed you could.
About Irene Vartanoff
Irene Vartanoff is a longtime romance editor and writer who got her start in comic books. She is the author of several graphic romance novels published by Arrow Publications include Breaking All the Rules and The Egyptian’s Texas Spitfire. Under her comic book nom de plume, Poison Ivy, she contributes to the MyRomanceStory Blog.