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Writing: How to Find Time to Write

by Alison on April 19, 2012

We have one more post on SEO to go, but I thought it might be nice to take a break from all this healthy, chock-full-o-vitamins content and get back to the joy and thrill of writing. SEO brings out my inner geek but I wouldn’t do any of it if I didn’t love to write.

I’ve already blogged about the importance of not writing and how to get started on your book. But actually finding time to write is tricky. For me, it’s a two-step process. The first step is to make a writing schedule and stick to it. This is just good old-fashioned advice and it’s hardly mine. It’s something writing instructors, piano teachers, sport coaches, and every other disciplinarian has been saying since the dawn of time.

But the second is far fuzzier and all mine. It comes from California, the land of yoga and mantras and listening to your body and saying, I forgive you. It is all well and good to have a writing schedule but I also believe you cannot be a slave to it. So the second step to finding time to write is: Forgive yourself and use the small scraps of time.

Scientists believe one of the habits of thin people is something close to this. We all fail at our diets from time to time. But people who are thin have one thing in common. If they have a naughty lunch, they forgive themselves and get back to eating right for the rest of the day. On the other hand, people prone to being overweight are more likely to let one bad meal or snack kick off a downward spiral that can last for days. Their thinking goes, Well, I failed. What’s the use? I might as well just eat what I want now.

I think writing is a little like this. Every morning I’m supposed to wake up at 5:30am  and be writing at my computer by 6am. Generally, I am. However some mornings, I wake up at 6:30am, 6:45am, or worse. I have to jump in the shower at 7am to make it to work on time, so it’s tempting in that moment of frustration to say, Fine. I failed. I’ll just write tomorrow. What can I really get done in thirty minutes? Twenty minutes? Even ten minutes?

And every once in a while I do. But more often than not, I take a moment to forgive myself and then see what I can accomplish with the small scrap of time I still have. Time and again I have been shocked at how much I can get done with just a few quiet moments and I’m always glad I dragged myself out of bed. Plus, the next day, it’s that much easier to wake up because I stayed on my schedule and saw the reward of writing first hand.

Take, for instance, this blog post. It was composed in one of these found scraps of time.

So that’s my secret for sticking to my writing schedule. What about you? Do you bribe yourself when the going gets tough? Are you someone who powers through no matter what?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy April 20, 2012 at 11:50 am

Thank you. I now officially forgive myself, and I’m signing that invisible pledge card to use my scraps of time. You have inspired me once again to discipline my art.

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Rebecca Trogner June 14, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Hi, I was researching for an article of my own and found your site. I like the analogy to thin people, alas i am not one of those… I can’t really schedule, so I write whenever i can. Sometimes that’s on napkins, meeting notes, or anything I can find. Later when I look at it, I try and figure out what the heck I was thinking? I also have great ideas right before going to sleep. I used to try and get up and write, but then I didn’t get any sleep, so now I try and remember later.

Thanks

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