Thursday, February 18, 2010

Talking About Writing - Who has time?


The number one issue I have with my own writing is time.  If you read my last piece about writing (Getting Started), you may recall that I talked about ways in which to combat the fears and blocks in getting started.  I have since heard comments to the effect, "That's great, but I don't have TIME for writing!"

For the sake of sharing, I tell you, I often say those words to myself.  And, sometimes I don't just say them in my head, which I'm sure causes a mild case of concern for those around me.  But, the fact is - we won't get anything written if we don't write something!  So how does one find time to juggle work, supper, kids, practice, homework, email, social networking, walking the dog (or in our case, feeding the goats) AND write!?

I have learned (or have read, to be more accurate) about several different methods people use to find the time to write.  Maybe something in here will connect with you and perhaps kickstart your own adventure(s) in writing!

  1. Get a Recorder - Though technically not "writing," a voice recorder is a great way to at least get your thoughts down.  I have that using the voice memo feature of my cell phone works great for capturing thoughts about story lines, characters, tweaking a current project, etc.  I have also recorded the workings of story (who knows if it will grow to be novel-length) while driving down the road.  I do not record everything in one take nor in one sitting.  If an idea hits me, I hit the "MEMO" button on my phone, touch "Record" and begin talking.  Most of my thoughts last for less than two minutes.  then, I stop recording.  When another idea hits, I record it.  Though I know I am not getting the ideas down on paper (or in the computer), I feel like I've at least accomplished something by having my thoughts "on tape" as we used to say.  Most MP3 players have a recording feature.  Even an iPod Touch will work if you get the headphone/microphone combo for it.  And, if you happen to have a tape-based recorder laying around not doing anything, this might serve to revive it.

    Of course, the issue remains: talking and recording is not writing.  One still has to transcribe what one has recorded.  Or, if you don't have a recorder, you still need to figure out just WHEN you are going to write.
        
  2. Write for 15 Minutes - I recently read an article dealing with the subject of finding time, and the article (in Writer's Digest) suggests finding (or making, actually) 15 minutes available in the morning, at lunch, at night before one goes to bed.  I think this plan of attack serves those who are very serious about their writing but not able/willing to give up their day jobs.  While working on my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project, I forced myself to write.  At times, it was worse than getting up at 5:30am to exercise.  I fired up the laptop and wrote while I watched TV.  I took the laptop to bed with me and while my wife slept, I typed away until my eyelids shielded the screen from my view (side note: Autosave is a VERY handy feature!).  When writing in this fashion, it really does not matter what you are writing - you don't necessarily have to think about plot, theme, or anything deep.  The secret is to keep writing.  Describe a character you'd like to use, write how you would feel if your best friend just told you s/he was dying, won the lottery, or had changed sexual orientation.  Write about the yapping dog next door and what you (although it's really your story's character we're talking about) would do about it.  Just write.  But, many times, I didn't have 15 minutes to write.  In fact, many times, I barely found even five minutes of time.
        
  3. Write for 5 Minutes - And, thus I come to the "five-minute rule."  Write for five minutes.  I read this in Immediate Fiction: Start small and write for five minutes.  Where do I have five minutes?  In the bathroom.  Yes, while you are sitting there, instead of a magazine, pick up a pen and write.  As mentioned before, write about whatever comes to mind.  Remember, in stories, your characters can do anything, and they can do things you never would - kill someone, steal something, save a drowning baby, cook an eight-course meal, whatever!  Don't worry about details and jargon.  There's time for that later (yes, I said "time").  In the short time you have between, well moon up and moon down, you can write.  I prefer a pen and spiral notebook for that particular venue.  but, if you are happy taking a laptop with you, do that, but WRITE - no social networking, no email-checking!  What you will find is that you have five minutes in the morning while eating breakfast, or five minutes at lunch before you have to get back to work, or at lunch while you eat - perhaps before you eat.  What about bedtime?  Just before you turn out the lights, grab the notebook and write for a few minutes.  Can't do five whole minutes?  Do three.  Really.  Or how about two?  Want to know where you can find two minutes?  How about during nearly every commercial break on every television station?  Write during the commercials then put the pen down when the show comes back on (if you can put it down. If you can't stop, just keep writing!).
As you push yourself to write (especially in 2-, 3-, or 5-minute intervals), you will find that you are able to get a lot more written in those precious few moments than you may have ever fathomed.  It really works!  You may also find yourself rearranging your time in order to write more.  TV shows you thought were so worth watching may fall to the wayside.  You may find yourself writing instead of aimlessly reading people's updates on social networks.  Not that you should give those things up - not by a long shot!  But, in my experience (and from an old adage or two): we make time for things we deem important in our lives.  I exercise every morning (not much, but better than nothing at all in my case) because I think it's important to my overall health.  I write in weird places at odd times because I think it's important to my future as someone that wants to write for fun (and hopefully profit some day).

And, with a bit of discipline, baby steps and creativity, you too will (hopefully!) find that you've had the time to write all along.


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