Carving out time to write
Summer is hard. Life is hard. There are so many things distracting us from working, from writing.
Personally, I’ve been traveling and readjusting to being back in the US (we’re just here for one month). I’m back in my own apartment and suddenly find so many things I need to do that aren’t writing. I know you know what I mean—cleaning, shopping, doctor’s appointments, etc. Life!
Vacation makes everything more challenging
Having my husband on vacation doesn’t help. He wants to get all the things done that he hasn’t had time to do because he’s been at work. Naturally, he wants me to help out with all his chores—help him to clean and organize, and make decisions.
My child is on vacation too before they start a new college program in the fall. They, naturally, want to get in as much fun and games as they before their work begins in earnest. While they are really looking forward to this new school, they are not happy about having to give up their Dungeons & Dragons games which they’ve been playing regularly for the past six months. In preparation for losing D&D, they’re getting as much playing time in as possible this summer—I completely understand and sympathize.
But I’m not on vacation.
I’m still trying to work!
Finally, I got through to my family. After discussing this (oh, okay, complaining that I’m not getting as much (read any) work done as I’d like) we sat down and made a schedule. We planned out our days and our dinners (because deciding what to have for dinner is A Thing in my family of “foodies”). I now have half a day dedicated to my writing every day. Yay!! We decided who would be cooking what, when and who would do the grocery shopping (when my husband isn’t on vacation, that would be me, but since he isn’t working he was willing to take over the chore with the child’s help).
Now, finally, I had time in hand! We had a plan. We knew who was going to do what and when and we built in time when I would have my own time to write. Yay!!
At my appointed time, I sat down to write the short story I needed to produce for my monthly newsletter. I had three hours to work, which is a nice chunk of time, but I needed to use it wisely—I could not squander it away on Facebook (as I have a sad tendency to do). So I turned off my wifi (no interruptions!), plugged my headphones into my ears, put on my focus music (more on that in another post soon!) and got to work.
I’m a plotter, so I started on paper writing out what the story needed to be about and doing a quick W structure graph with just the four turning points of the story. Since it was a short story, it would just be the four scenes, which made it easy. I then shifted to my computer and got to writing.
Over 2000 words later…
…I’d gotten most of my first draft done, but better than that—it felt really good!
Just sitting down, plugging in my earphones, and writing was the most wonderful, rejuvenating thing. Do you feel that way? Does writing rejuvenate you?
It definitely makes me mentally tired. It is work. But I also feel really good afterward. I feel like I’ve accomplished something.
I created people and told a small piece of their life in (what I hope is) an interesting story. I just needed a few hours of dedicated time, time that everyone in my family agreed was mine to take.
No one interrupted me. No one tried to talk to me, or ask me a question or tried to get me to do something else. Everyone knew that this was my time and I was not to be disturbed.
The fact that I had my headphones on and couldn’t hear anything around me helped a great deal too. Having music in my ears helps me to focus and blocks out the sighs of my husband playing his computer game nearby, and the giggles of my child as they watched their favorite show on their computer or chatted with their friends—or both at the same time!
I was in my own little world with other people doing other things and I got to stay there for as long as I needed. It was amazing!
Tomorrow I’ll sit down and finish writing the story during my pre-determined writing time. I’ll have to do some adding to what I’ve already got down because, as always, after I stopped writing and started thinking of something else, I realized what I was missing from what I’d already written—the emotional connection between my characters! Argh!
But what I won’t have to do is talk to anyone, or explain what I’m doing or do anything but put in my headphones and write, guilt-free!
Tl;dr (too long; didn’t read)
So, just to break this down for you, in case you too have trouble separating yourself from Life (and because I love tl;dr):
- I discussed and agreed with my family when I would have my own writing time. And they agreed not to disturb me during that time.
- I knew precisely what I was going to use that time to do.
- I put on headphones to block out all other sounds so that I could be just in my own little world.
Now over to you
What do you think? Could you do the same things? Have you tried? How did it work out for you?
Life is doing everything it possibly can to pull you away from your writing. What are you doing to fight back?