Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Claiming Time

We're all busy--with jobs, families, school, kids, volunteering, laundry...so how do you find time to write?

I say it's all about claiming time.

Obviously, there's the time you devote to writing--either hitting your goal word count or sitting butt-in-chair for a set time each day.  But that isn't what I'm talking about.  It's the other time--the time when you're doing other stuff--that I'm saying you can claim.

Wait a second, you say--I have to be at work from 9 to 5.  Or I'm home working my tail off chasing kids around.  Or even But this laundry HAS to get done.

Yeah, that laundry does need to get done.  Believe me, I hear you, and so does my overflowing hamper.  Here's the thing--you can still claim that time.

I've been painting a lot lately.  The 1870s house that is our new home is beautiful--and covered with kitschy wallpaper and questionable paint choices from the previous owners.  A lot of my time lately has been stripping wallpaper, priming, painting, and other time-consuming but not terribly mentally engaging activities.  About a week in, I made the choice to actively claim that time to think about my WIPs--instead of just zoning out, listening to the radio, or having the TV on the background.

I can't tell you why the previous owners stenciled "Buttons and Brads"
on the wall, except that they were devoted scrapbookers.  Yeah, that had to go.
How much of the stuff that fills your day completely absorbs you mentally?  Yes, you can't space out while creating a presentation for work--but does alphabetizing files really keep you mentally engaged?  You should probably pay attention in class, but walking across campus?  And that laundry--does folding it encompass all your cerebral energy?

If you think about it, there's a lot of time during the day when you're busy...but not plugged in mentally.  And you can claim that time for writing--by brainstorming now, acting out dialogue in your head, or coming at a pesky plot problem from a few different angles, you get to maximize your hands-on-keyboard time.  You can come to your writing with a set plan of attack, a new scene ready to be written, or a solution to an editing issue that's been nagging you.  Plus all that prep time makes me feel absolutely pumped about getting to the laptop and getting some real words out!

As for me, I don't mind that I look like a loon, paint roller in hand, talking to myself as I work out a plot twist.

How about you?  Do you find time you can claim for writing?  Does the multi-tasking approach work for you?  Or does it work better to just set aside the writing time and keep it separate from everything else?


  1. Yeah, I try to multi-task too while folding laundry, cleaning, etc. It helps me be more productive when I finally have the time to sit in front of the computer.

    Have fun with all the painting!

  2. I often think about dialogue or scenes while I'm doing other things. I call it "mental writing." Of course, it can pose a problem in that I often enjoy it so much that I don't make the time to write all down!