Monday, June 2, 2014

How Do You Find the Time?

I have lost track of how many people have asked me how I find the time to write. The answer is easy….I just do. It’s a struggle. It’s not easy. There are some things I have to sacrifice. But it is doable. And since my kids are now both in school, it's gotten a bit easier. I can treat it more like a "real" job (more on that below).

These are a few things I do to find the time to write, but many of them can apply to anything you need to make time for in your life.

1. Carry a notebook and pen, a recorder, laptop, etc.
One thing I noticed about myself is that even when I’m not writing, I’m writing. Story ideas, conversations between characters, ideas for scenes…these are always running through my head. I tend to get epiphanies when I’m in the shower or doing the dishes. I may not have time in the middle of a load of dishes to rush to my computer and write a scene the moment it occurs to me, but if take a second to jot down a few notes, then I have something to work on when I can sit down at my computer. This both saves me the frustration of trying to remember something I really wanted to include in my book (because my memory is SHOT nowadays) and saves me precious minutes of think time when I am in front of my screen.

2. Get chores and errands done in a timely manner.
This is an ongoing struggle lol But I do try ;-) If I can get my household chores and errands completed early in the day, then whatever spare moments present themselves can be used to write. I can concentrate on my story instead of feeling guilty that I should be doing dishes or laundry instead.

3. Treat it like a job.
This is easier said than done. Working from home has its perks, for sure. But it also has its drawbacks. There are a lot of distractions. The kitchen is RIGHT THERE. The t.v. is RIGHT THERE. There is no boss making sure I don't play online all day long. Other people assume because I'm home all day, I can take off whenever I want or that I'm not actually doing stuff. But I am. My job takes a lot of time. And if I don't treat it like the actual job it is, it doesn't get done (unless I stay up all night, and the older I get, the harder it is to keep those vampire hours) :-) So, I have to keep on top of things, stay organized, make goals, meet my deadlines, and get my projects done whether I feel like working or not. It's not always fun, but it's always worth it in the end.

4. Prioritize your activities
We all have spare moments in the day. What we do with those moments is what is important. If you truly want to find the time to write (or do anything else), you have to be willing to sacrifice. I have a lot of television shows that I love. I love to read. I play the piano and cross-stitch. I have children that want to play with their mommy (although I would like to note that time with my children is NOT something I sacrifice in order to write).

This is where the whole "treat it like a job" comes in. I try to keep my work hours contained to when my kids are in school. That means when my kids come home, I can play with them and just be "mommy." Sometimes looming deadlines cuts into this and I have to readjust, but I try to maintain a somewhat regular work schedule.

But sometimes it requires a bit of sacrifice. Sometimes I need to DVR those shows so I can work after the kids are in bed, or I don't get to that new book I wanted to read for a few weeks. It's just a matter of deciding what's more important. And I'd rather sacrifice watching the new episode of Game of Thrones (though thank goodness for DVR!!!) and get some kid time in than sacrifice time with my family to write.

Now, let’s face it, Real Life is going to get in the way sometimes. It’s going to throw carefully crafted schedules right out the window, probably on a daily basis. But it shouldn’t matter. If you want to write (or do whatever it is that you are trying to find time for), you will do it. Find the time. Eat dinner a little faster and use the three minutes you saved scarfing your meal to write a few lines. Carry a recorder around and dictate your book while you vacuum. Scribble on Kleenexes while you wait at the doctor’s with your sick child (just be careful not to use said Kleenex for said sick child’s nose).

The time is there…you just have to find it and use it.

Author Kenneth Atchity said: Every human being has exactly the same amount of time, and yet consider the output of Robert Louis Stevenson, John Peabody Harrington, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury,William Goldman, Neil Simon, Joyce Caorl Oates, Agatha Christie and John Gardner. How did they accomplish what they have? They weren’t deflected from their priorities by activities of lesser importance. The work continues, even though everything else may have to give. They know that their greatest resource is themselves. Wasting time is wasting themselves. When people ask them, “Where do you find the time?” they wonder, “Where do you lose it?”

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