Someday is Today: Making Time to Write
Leave your excuses at the door, oh busy budding writers of 2016! Everyone and their mom has a hangnail, a teething toddler, a grouchy boss, the leaky faucet and a quarterly finals coming up. The small, consistent action we want to focus on this month is to carve out some sacred writing time that is untouchable (or at least, unavoidable despite being moved around into a different segment of the day). What’s the best way to optimize the minimal, or nonexistent, personal writing time we have?
1. Create Time
Laura Vanderkam is the popular author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think and What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. Let me clue you all into some truths that Ms. Vanderkam spells out in these acclaimed books. Time management is all about seeing openings in your day. Slice and dice your daily time consuming activities or hobbies into areas that can coincide into segments when you aren’t writing. Instead of checking Facebook and updating social media in the morning when no one is around, log in while you’re in the pick-up lane after school or waiting for soccer practice to end. Watch your favorite shows while you’re on the treadmill instead of plopping down on the sofa after going to the gym. Take your coffee with a work call to hit two birds with one stone. Start storytime with your kids while they’re in the bath and brushing their teeth so you can finish up once their heads hit the pillow. What do you have at the end of all these minimal efforts to make consolidate your daily activities? Minutes that will pile up into golden writing time!
Since I’m a fan of spoilers, I’ll let you in on Ms. Vanderkam’s bits of advice about diving into what you love to do before breakfast-time hits. Waking up earlier than the rest of your household may be lonely, but if you treat yourself to your NaNoWriMo goals and know that there are hundreds of thousands of people in the boat with you this month – you can channel the feeling of being a part of hoards of budding writers who are up at dawn doing the same thing! Set your alarm for that early pre-dawn hour (join Rabata’s Tahajjud Revolution for a spiritual boost while you’re at it). If morning time is impossible, utilize your lunch break for the next 30 days in November and gobble up a sandwich as you crunch out dialogue.
2. Maintain Consistency
Oh, this is the tough part. Day 1 and 2 may go smoothly enough, but there will be a pitfall to set you back! This pitfall will look you in the eye and say, “Tough luck babe. Maybe some other day.” Never fear, we are here to help mediate between you and your impending pitfall and juggle around life responsibilities so you can keep writing! Since all our excuses are at the door, experimenting with our schedules is open game.
What’s the secret to maintaining consistency, especially in writing? Blocking out a time and ensuring you have something specific you’re working towards is one thing. Another very crucial element is attaching this writing time to something unavoidable (or so attractive you wouldn’t want to miss it for the world). These things are highly dependent on how you work as an individual. Is coffee and chocolate cake your fuel for life? Hook your writing time to your coffee & cake time and voila – consistency will reveal itself! Need to cook for a large family on a daily basis or just make sure your dinner for one isn’t a complete disaster? Plan slow cooker meals or throw together easy oven recipes so you can write while spices simmer together. Make meal plans for the month of NaNoWriMo and gear up to write while some other daily activities go into short cut mode. When there’s a will, there’s a way!
3. Be Loud & Proud
Don’t be shy about writing. Tell the world you’re participating in a fantastic event for one entire month. How are people supposed to be mindful of your priorities if you aren’t being vocal about them? Mind readers are few and far between. Family members, roommates and colleagues will be intrigued, amused or just plain annoyed. Ignore them and write on!
Ensure that the time and space you have to write is barricaded from outside forces during your writing time – or have distractions at the ready so you can continue on your daily writing goal. Limit social media browsing, juggle phone calls and catch-up coffee shop chatter to segments of the day you aren’t writing and allow others to understand how important writing out your NaNoWriMo manuscript is to you! You’d be surprised at the amount of people you may be able to rope into participating in NaNoWriMo with you.
Now that we have some guidelines set on how we can make the someday in attaining our writing goals to today, let’s take a deep breath and get started! Don’t be afraid to do something out of the ordinary in order to create, maintain and shout your writing intentions from the rooftops. Well, at the very least, from Facebook status update.
[written while two toddlers were treated with the annoying Caillou and his shopping list, along with a snack of the most horrendously crumb-spreading cereal of all time – it was a hard decision but the clean-up will be well worth knowing that there was at least a 900 word count completed]