Making Time Your B*tch...
I recently got an email from a friend who’s in the process of writing her first manuscript (YAY!). She wanted to know if I had any advice on how to juggle taking care of her small kids with finding time to write. After giving it some thought, I decided to share my oh-so-wise words with you all as well.
As far as finding time to write with kids around (and this same logic applies to spouses, demanding pets, pesky jobs...basically anything that keeps us from lounging around all day eating Bon Bons), I’ll be honest, there is no easy answer. When I was writing The Body Finder, my kids were 6, 15, and 20 (although my oldest was in college and rarely around). I was also working two jobs, so the term “me-time” was practically a swear word. But I had this story idea that I just HAD to write. So what did I do?
For starters, I got up every day before anyone else did so I could write before getting my kids off to school. I began squeezing in 15 minute cram sessions here and there throughout the day (whenever I had a break), and I wrote in the evenings while my husband helped with homework and did dinner dishes. At the end of the night, I would fall into bed, and in the morning I would start it all again.
And, no, it wasn’t easy.
I read a great post on this topic by Jaye Wells that outlined the differences between those who say “I want to write” and those who actually sit down and make it happen. It's kind of harsh, but from where I sit, it’s pretty danged inspirational, too.
The thing is, you really don't always have two or three hours to devote to writing. If you only have 10 or 15 precious minutes, spend them polishing what you’ve already written, or brainstorm and outline your next few chapters. Or write 100 words. The amazing thing is, sometimes when find your writing groove you won't want to stop, and miraculously you’ll find another 10 or 15 minutes…and then another. Because sometimes just getting started is the toughest part.
And don’t underestimate the voices in your head (you writers out there will know what I mean). I write in my head pretty much everywhere I go: in the car, in the shower, pushing my grocery cart down the aisles. Sometimes I’m fixing the plot and sometimes my characters are dialoguing with each other. I get my best epiphanies while I’m zoning out on a long stretch of highway. Hell, I wrote half this blog post in the shower.
Writing takes discipline, and finding the time is crucial. But if you really, really have a story that needs telling, you will somehow, some way find the time to get it done.
Ben Affleck may have said it best, when he summed up the keys to success during his acceptance speech for his Best Picture Oscar:
Or you can just keep telling people, “I’ve always wanted to write...”