I wish I could say that it was easy to find time to write, even on the busiest days of your life. I also wish that I could say that writing always comes easily and quickly. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. As my best friends (the other CITW founders) would happily tell you, I have one of the busiest schedules humanly possible between college, homework, work, church tech, and writing, and I’m constantly in a state of exhaustion before I ever get to the last item. I’ve learned over the years, however, that there’s always a way to find time to write, even when I don’t feel that it’s actually possible.
Here are three tips I’ve discovered during my years of writing (including 3 different NaNoWriMo’s):
- Don’t feel bad if you miss a day of writing
Yes, it does feel weird not to write for a day, almost as if you’ve lost an arm or something (I swear I went into actual writing withdrawal when my mom didn’t let me take my writing on a week-long trip with my church). However, there are other things that you can do instead of write. If there’s a day that I get too busy to write, I tend to take some time to either plot the other books in my series (since I’ve got two more books to write) or think through some character development. I came up with a lot of different character traits for my main characters—the Royal Sextet—while at work behind the register at Target. A day without physically adding to your manuscript isn’t a bad thing, so long as you still do something to advance your book in some way. In the same vein, though, it’s also perfectly fine to take a break for a while if you need it. There’s been times before when I was planning to write, but I felt so tired or opposed to writing that I took a break from the Sextet for a few days. It was nice to have some time to avoid the Sextet and reconnect my friends and family. Just make sure you actually go back to them! xD
- Pencil writing time into your schedule
Another thing that I like to do is—based on my schedule for that day and week—physically write time for writing into my calendar. This works best when scheduled at the time that you normally write best: for example, I prefer to write at night, and am writing this blog at 10:37pm my (PST) time…whereas one of my fellow founders, Renee, somehow does her best writing at the godforsaken time of 5am (HOW NAY HOW??? xD ) Renee and I both have full-time lives, but we’ve set aside specific times to write. The rest of our group is the same, with most preferring to find some time to write in the morning (again, how are you all still sane?). There’s obviously circumstances where this would not work, but it’s helped me over the years to look at my schedule and say, “Okay, I’ve got a couple of hours of free time after this class…I’m going to use those hours to write.”
- Always have a notebook & pen/phone & document app with you
I know this probably shows up on a lot of ‘writing tips’ lists, but it’s true—especially for writers who are busy. I take the bus out to work or church most days, which give me about forty-five minutes to read, write, do homework, etc. During this time, if I choose to work on my writing and I don’t want to pull out my laptop (which, given where I live, is usually a no), I will pull out a notebook and start working. Maybe I’ll use my sketchbook to work on different countries, my character books to work on different characters’ personalities, or my outline books to work on outlining the next book in the series. In addition, the little notebook I have fits well into an area of the registers at Target, which allows me to jot down little notes while I’m cashiering. You don’t have to have as many notebooks and things as I do (cause I have a lot), but having at least one is good for when you aren’t able to access your computer or regular writing instrument. Not only will it help you prep for when you actually get back to writing, but you may realize something new about a character or setting by working in small spurts of time.
Hopefully this was of some help to you! I’m super excited to be working on Cabin in the Woods with the gals and you all, and I’ll see you all soon! (Now it’s off to bed for me, so I can see if Camryn will cooperate with me this morning…you work for me, Cam!)