Loisanne's Blog

The meandering path of my life

Weekly Writing Rant: Finding Time To Write

These days it seems like everyone has such busy schedules. Between work, kids, social activities and keeping things up at home, it’s hard for a person to find time to write. I mean, come on, until you’re a multi-published author, selling books worldwide, you’re probably not going to be able to afford to quit your day job. There are other obstacles that get in the way of writing as well. Lack of peace and quiet, motivation and procrastination factor in when it comes to creating that perfect piece of work.

So, what to do?

Well, there are many aspects to writing. I’ve broken them down into: Reasearching, Brainstorming, Outlining and Writing. Each one of these aspects take a different approach. It’s a good thing. You can almost always find time to fit at least one of these into your busy schedule.

Researching: If you’re like me, you use the internet to do most of your research. With three people and one computer, it can be difficult to spend much time researching. I’m lucky that what I write doesn’t require research so much as imagination. Still, I must do it from time to time. I usually multi-task while I’m checking email and Facebook. If you have children, you could intice them to help you look up research topics and send you the links. Most children have library cards. Get them to help out by checking out books for you. Character development is a form of research. I have a character questionnaire in a previous post that is helpful.

Brainstorming: This one doesn’t take up too much time. But if you’re like me, you need some peace and quiet to do it. All this takes is thinking about your project. I can’t tell you how many lunch hours I spent alone, sitting sideways in a booth with my back against the wall, eyes shut, thinking about my story. Many times I’ve pondered plot ideas and asked myself questions. Stories are like logic puzzles. They require a lot of thought. You can think anywhere though. Sometimes I think while I’m driving to work. Sometimes it’s when I lay down at night. I even think about my story while I’m working…but don’t tell my boss. No matter where I am though, I have my notebook with me. After all, what’s the sense of thinking about your story if you don’t have a notebook to record your epiphanies?

Outlining: This step is a MUST for me. I know some people don’t write outlines, preferring to write where their fancy takes them. I can’t do that. I need a map to tell me where my story is going and how it will end (for more information, check out a previous post on writing an outline) If you’re like me and need to have an outline, this can be one of the easiest things to fit into a busy schedule, especially if you use the mind-mapping technique. All you need is a pen and paper. Whether you’re outlining your whole story or just a chapter, it can easily be done in stages. Most of my story outline was written while I was at work, during breaks or lunch hours. I’ve even written while waiting on my son at basketball practice. Sometimes it’s only a few lines, but it’s a few lines more than I had before.

Writing: This can be the most challenging step. I know for me, I have to be able to fully immerse myself in my story and shut away the outside world. It can be difficult at times. And even when all the conditions are right, the motivation might not be there. For this stage, I have to shut myself away and tell the kids not to bother me (and not kill each other) while my door is shut. I usually put a time limit on it. It’s usually a half hour, sometimes an hour. I can generally count on my kids maintaining some semblance of peace and quiet for a 30 minute session. An hour is usually pushing it. I have to give them a time limit. Just saying “a while” or “some time” doesn’t work for my youngest son. He needs to know how long so he can tell when the time is up. I don’t use one, but a kitchen timer might work for you. You can set it and forget it. You won’t have to think about how long you’ve got, the timer will do it for you.

When it comes to time, the above ideas can be great helpers. But when you find that time, what if the motivation isn’t there? What if you’re muse has abandoned you?

Our sub-concious is our best tool. It’s where our creativity comes from. Sometimes when I write, I feel like the words and ideas are whispered to me by my sub-concious and I merely write them down. I think of the sub-conious as a big pot. All of what we see, hear, feel, taste, smell, think…all of it goes in that pot. It gets mixed up and combined in ways that make us who we are…and gives us our inspiration, our thoughts. I believe if you pose your sub-concious questions, ask it for advice, it will mix up a concoction to perfectly fit your needs. So, when you feel like your muse has abandoned you, talk to it. Tell it the problems you’re having with your story. Ask it for it’s help. Then wait. Work on something else. Be patient. Have faith. Your subconcious will come to your rescue.

These are all ideas that may or may not help you when it comes to finding time to work on your story. If you’re a procrastinator though, chances are “time” is not the real factor to you not writing. I’m not talking about the occasional putting off of some task. I’m talking about deliberately avoiding something. The real psychological disorder of “Procrastinating“. While researching this article, I found out that I, myself, have this disorder. Not when it comes to writing, but pertaining to another aspect of my personal life. It was an eye-opener for me. I truly believe that the first step to fixing a problem is knowing what the problem is. If you procrastinate with your writing, search inside yourself to find the underlying reasons why you do it and bring them into the light. I think most people’s reason why they procrastinate when it comes to writing is fear. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of rejection. Even fear of success. I hope that this will help someone discover their fear and overcome it.
This article has been a difficult one for me to write. Because of my own busy schedule, the holiday season and the subject matter, it’s taken me two weeks to finish this. It has been one of the most personally enlightening articles I’ve ever written though. Once again, I have to say, even if no one else ever reads these articles or gets any helpful ideas from them at all, they are still worth it because they have helped me. I have learned so much from researching these articles. This blog has been one of the most enriching things I’ve added to my life this last year. I can’t wait to see what this next year will bring.

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January 3, 2010 - Posted by | Weekly Rant | , , , , , ,

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