Don’t you sometimes wish that you could sit down in front of your computer and type away for six or eight hours a day? I hear myself say, “If only I had time, I would sit down and finish my book. And then I’d start the next one that is already entering its gestational phase in my crowded mind.” Most of us still have to earn a living, maintain a household, or both. But the desire to write just does not go away. So, how do we squeeze in writing time and still be in our boss’s/family’s good books?
Stephen King wrote Carrie while he was still teaching English to high school students. He would go home at night and place his notepad on a board on his lap because there was no room for a desk their mobile home. William Golding was one up on King, and wrote Lord of the Flies while his students were quietly completing the assignments that he would give them to do. Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind, wrote while she cleaned her house. Apparently, she kept a notebook under her apron and would scribble between chores. John Grisham was still a busy lawyer in a law firm before his second book, The Firm, became a blockbuster and brought in enough money so that he could turn to full-time writing. He would arrive at his law office at five in the morning, six days a week, and work on his writing.
What we learn from these great authors is that when you have made writing your priority, nothing much will stop you from writing. But here are a few pointers that may be of some help:
- Break it up: If you write just 250 words every day (that’s shorter than this blog is at this point, right now), then you will complete an unedited 90k novel in only ONE YEAR. Write 500 words per day (possibly the length of this blog when I’m done) and you can spend six months editing and polishing it, and still write one book a year.
- Keep a notebook with you AT ALL TIMES. And then make a point of writing something (anything) in it at every opportunity: during lunch at the office, while waiting for someone, in the loo. Your spurts of ad-hoc writing will encourage creativity and when you do sit down at your computer, your brain will be primed and the crazy thoughts you came up with earlier sometimes add a new, much-needed dimension to your work
- The Amazing Alarm Clock: Probably the best weapon in the writer’s arsenal. Just place it far away from your bed so that you actually have to get up to turn it off. By then you will be awake and decide that you may as well begin working on your blockbuster. Then sit down and produce those 250 or 500 words.
I hope that you can see that finding time is doable. But don’t be too despondent if you don’t get your quota in on the first day. As Scarlett O’Hara said, “After all, tomorrow is another day!”