One of my commenters, Alta Peterson who has a fantastic blog, asked me recently about how I’m able to write and publish blog posts so often.
— Alta Peterson (@AltaPeterson) September 11, 2013
Well, Alta. Here’s the answer. I have no life.
No, just kidding. I totally have a life.
Alta isn’t the first one who has asked me about this. Friends are always wondering about how I am able to write on my novel/short stories, blog, tweet, and have a full time job at the same time. I’ve always said that I don’t sleep. But that’s not true either. Kinda.
I observed myself (that’s a weird sentence) for a bit and figured out what I do. How am I able to write so much so often? Here’s how.
1.) Time, time, time is not my friend.
I have to make time. I know, it’s such a matter-of-fact thing to write but it’s true. At work, I look forward to coming home to write and in the morning I wake up wanting to write, so there’s the overwhelming desire to write all the time, which is helpful.
Sometimes I get up early to write but mostly I listen to my natural writing rhythm, which every writer has. That rhythm tells you the best times of the day or night you’re most creative. I know my rhythm is early morning (5 am-7am), late at night (10 pm-2am), and later in the afternoon because of so many years in newspapering (3 pm-5ish). I try to get things done around those times. If I’m home from work, I can write any time in the morning before noon. I’m rubbish after that.
2.) Planning just about makes perfect.
Because I know when my creative windows are, the other times are for planning. By planning I don’t mean plotting out stories or working on my editorial calendar, though sometimes that happens. That’s when I actually do some living — practicing yoga, watching Doctor Who, going to work, etc. While you’re working on other things, sometimes you’ll get ideas for things for the blog and for writing. When I get those ideas they instantly go in my Evernote (amazing app that you must get). In fact, I found a new direction for one of my projects while doing something non-writing related.
It’s during this time that I also get ideas for things I should do. That’s when things get into my Wunderlist app (awesome to do list app). I have several to do lists that are continuous. For example, I have a blogging to do list and it has stuff like figure out how to get more Google juice for the site or check out such and such’s blog. Usually these don’t have due dates, I get them done as I have spare time like the commercials in shows or the time it takes to brew coffee.
3.) I read. A lot. At least I try to.
Good writing comes from good reading so I try to get my hands on as much stuff to read as possible. That is to the determent of my sagging bookshelf unfortunately. Ironically, I have more difficulty trying to find time to read than write. (Don’t tell Stephen I said that.) But, I do force myself to even if it’s during my writing times. Lately this has been easy since I’ve been focusing a lot on the short story which means I can probably read something in about 20 minutes, depending on the length of the story. For novels, I take it one chapter at a time.
When I read, I get inspired to write and I also get ideas. This is such a crucial part of my process that I feel guilty when I don’t read.
That’s it. This plan isn’t foolproof but it works for me and it allows me to write a lot and stay sane. Through this entire thing I have to remember that I’m a person and not a machine so I will make mistakes. I may do more writing than reading or may not put that great idea into Evernote right away. When that happens, I have to forgive myself and keep going because writing is a process. There are goals but never a destination.
Question: How do you find time to write? What tips do you use for craving out writing time.