Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Swinging Pendulum: Balancing Your Time

By Heather Moore

“How do you find time to write?” is a question that I hear often. And anyone who isn’t an obsessive compulsive writer will wonder the same thing.

Before I list some ideas, here’s a warning: If writing has already taken over your entire life, don’t read the following list. It will just give you more excuses of why not to take out the garbage.

1. Limit the number of email lists you join. This can take up an incredible amount of time. Join one or two that you feel are very helpful. I have a specific email account that I use for the lists I’m on and they don’t feed into my Outlook. That way I don’t see all the emails unless I specifically go to the list.

2. Are you blogging more than you’re writing? Enough said.

3. Invest in a laptop or a Neo Alphasmart. Annette Lyon swears by hers. You are now portable. Writing can be done in an airport, at the park, a café, or even waiting to see the dentist.

4. Hire a nanny. Just kidding. I read this suggestion once in an article. Maybe if you are able to justify the expense, minus your royalties, and still profit. But, joking aside, you need to treat your writing as a job. Some days you’ll have to force yourself to put in that hour or two—just like any other job.

5. Set word count goals. Stay away from blocking out hours. Well, you can block out time to write, but if you don’t have a word count goal, I can guarantee those email lists you are on will see higher traffic from you during those time blocks. Even if you decide you are writing 500 words a day or 2,000, keep a running total at the bottom of your manuscript and watch the numbers grow.

6. Reward system: I didn’t mean for this blog to turn into a motivation tool, but I just achieved a writing goal that took me nearly 6 months of writing, 2 months of editing, then 3 more months of rewriting. My reward? After I edit the hard copy, I’m going to read Harry Potter Seven and New Moon. And maybe I’ll spring for a pedicure--with the flowers.

7. Choose now. TV or writing?

8. Set wacky hours. With summer in full swing, I usually write from 8:00 p.m. to midnight.

9. Take at least one day off a week from writing anything. Recharge your creativity. Give your poor hands a break. Smell the roses.

10. You do have to shower and clean your house even if you’re a writer. Set the timer for thirty minutes and clean like mad. Julie Wright gets all sorts of inspiration cleaning out her closets. Then make a cup of hot something and you’ll be ready to write when you sit down at your computer.

It's all about the balance.


Stephanie said...

What great advice. My husband already thinks I'm the queen of wacky hours.

Lu Ann Brobst Staheli said...

Great advice, Heather, but don't forget the other problem (the one I sometimes suffer from): Having the time, but just not making myself sit in the seat with the file open and actually WRITING on the thing (whatever it is I should be writing at the time.)

Janette Rallison said...

A lot of times I get my writing done because I haven't cleaned anything--and yes, it bothers me to live amongst clutter and laundry--but now I've got a whole stack of books that I've written--it somehow feels better than knowing that the kitchen floor was mopped deligently for the last decade.

Annette Lyon said...

When I can't find chunks of time, I look for what I call "time cracks," those snippets that would otherwise be lost, be it in a waiting room, in the car waiting for the kids to come out of piano lessons, or whatever. Granted, it's not nearly as fun to write for 15 minutes instead of 2 hours, but those 15 minute blocks sure add up.

Heather B. Moore said...

When I do have a 2-3 hour block, it takes me 45 minutes to sort through emails, read a few blogs, etc. So I almost get more done when I know I only have 20-30 minutes before the kids get home from school.