Thursday, August 5, 2010

Livin La Vida Loca the Writer's Way

Ricky Martin's idea of "Livin La Vida Loca" is kid's play compared to my crazy life.

Up a 5:00am. Exercise, then off to work. Don't get home until after 5:00pm. Then, there's dinner to cook, fur-babies to feed and play with, and can't forget spending time with the hubby or tending to the occasional medical issues that arise from his spinal cord injury and paralysis. Toss in monitoring his autistic brother, laundry, dishes, vacuuming, and dusting and I've used up 27 hours in a 24 hour day.

Okay, so I fudged on the dusting. And I forgot to calculate sleep time. Point is, necessities in life dictate my daily schedule. But, time waits for no writer. So, how do I find the time to write?

In a nutshell...I don't.

Time isn't something you find. It's something you make use of. And I have to make the most of mine.

Tiny fragments of time can add up to a chunk of missed opportunity if ignored. So, I carry a netbook everywhere. I write at work on my breaks and lunch hour. I write waiting at the doctor's office. I write when I'm riding in a car. I write while watching TV.

If I'm not writing during these hidden moments, I'm reading. To be a good writer, one must read. A lot. Read for pleasure, read for study, read for enrichment, read for enlightenment. Reading and writing are like Hansel and Gretel. Where you find one, you should find the other.

My brain is hard-wired for writing. At any given moment, a dozen or so stories may be crowding my cerebral cortex. I've learned to make notes on index cards, scraps of paper, the back of receipts, to keep track of story ideas, characters, and situations.

And, like every other writer, occasionally I get walloped with the wand of the writer's block faery. When this happens, if I can't work through the issue on the computer screen, I sleep on it. Yep, that's right. I go to bed. Or at least take a nap.

Of course, as I close my eyes, I'm thinking about plots and characters, turning points and black moments. Sometimes the solution comes to me when I wake up, sometimes it takes several days. But it does come.


Because the brain never sleeps. It is the ultimate in the state-of-the-art personal computers. I can input a plot point that isn't working, or a character that's misbehaving, and soon the busy beaver inside my head computes a scenario or solution that gives me that incredulous "Ah Ha!" moment.

Think about. Write while you're sleeping. Capitalize on 6-8 hours of untapped time.

Okay, maybe that's not for everyone. But it works for me.

I like to use weekends for marathon writing. Limiting social activities helps. All my friends and family understand and are supportive of my off-the-cuff time management. I haven't cut myself off from spending time with others, but I'm not running to every BBQ, every potluck, or every picnic that comes along.

Another tidbit on time management came to me when my husband suffered a set-back in his medical condition. I was stretched beyond my capabilities, as far as responsibilities go, and I made the decision to hire a cleaning service until things became more manageable for me. From them, I learned only clean what's dirty. If it isn't dirty, don't clean it until it is. Maybe that's common sense, but it was an eye opener for me. I no longer have the cleaning service, but the rule is still fresh in my mind. The floor still gets vacuumed and mopped, but only when dirty. The laundry gets done in bulk, rather than piecemeal. And so on. Instead of spending a day on the weekend cleaning, I clean what needs to be cleaned and use the remainder of the day to write.

I believe that we can always optimize time to include the things we want to do. Though each day is different, I manage to pull it all together and when I finally stop for the night I'm usually satisfied with the time I spent on writing.

So tell me, what are your biggest challenges in carving out time to write and what ways have you found to overcome those obstacle?

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Rebecca Lynn said...

It might sound strange, but one of my biggest obstacles has been having too much time. (Well, not this summer--this summer has been unreal--but in general.) Since I only work part time and I don't have kids, I've been trying to "find time" to write all year. And I have done a lot of it. But not nearly as much as I should.

I like that. You don't "find time", you "make time". That's much more active and proactive. I like that.

Great post.
August 5, 2010 7:57 AM

Renee said...

You are so right on! We have to make the time, there is no way around it. I don't have many of the medical issues you do with your family. But we do own our own business, and I homeschool my kids. I'm even considering going back for one last semester of school.

My social events are limited (I think that is because nobody likes to invite me places ;)), which is fine with me (sometimes).

I don't sleep much. What you said about plotting in your sleep is so very true for me too. I also have several stories going on in my head at one time. Currently there are five that are warring for my attention.

Great post!
August 5, 2010 8:00 AM

Lexi said...

My biggest obstacle was my day job. So I quit. Of course, now I spend much of my day searching for a new job, but I'm also getting some writing time carved out!
August 5, 2010 11:03 AM

Jennieke Cohen said...

Wow, that is discipline!

I've been very bad about making time to write in the past, but now, post-conference, I'm going to take Elizabeth Hoyt's advice and sit down to write every day for 5 minutes. She said in her workshop that those five minutes would inevitably lead to more minutes, and so far I've found that to be true. And if they don't, then at least you wrote something that day!
August 5, 2010 5:57 PM

Lynn said...

Rebecca - I get the too much time thing. When I took a week off, I thought I'd be plowing through my writing... I didn't.

Kristal - I find when I make time early, I write. When I don't, another excuse fills that time. But now I'm better at fighting the excuses off.
August 5, 2010 7:06 PM

Camryn Rhys said...

I found that I was really challenged, listening to Nora speak, and realizing how little time I really spend writing compared with what I could be spending. You'll definitely see me being much more proactive about getting into my writing.

I'm taking part in the #8KB4S that Renee and Julie started, and that has been helpful already. I've written almost 6000 words this week alone. If I can keep up that pace, I can definitely keep churning out the books at the rate I would like to.
August 6, 2010 5:40 AM

Sarah Hoss said...

I like this post Kristal. I just wrote a similar comment to a friend about finding time to write. I slow down in the summers because I have the kids at home and the computer is in the family room. I try to allow more time for them. I imagine when I get a contract and have deadlines, I will do things differently. The kids go back to school in a few days so the writing is on then!!!
August 9, 2010 7:34 AM

Alice said...

who won????????

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