Saturday, February 23, 2013


In a single day, there are 1440 minutes.

I really needed to know that. In a complex world where we are already busy busy as hell, it seems almost impossible to find time to write.

What if we think about writing as something other than a task, a job, a commitment? What if writing becomes a choice. You know, like cooking a meal instead of going out or passing through the Drive-Thru (I hate "thru" because it always reminds me of a sword being plunged "thru" some poor devil).

We have all heard that time is money. Well, maybe more to the point is our time is like money. We have only so much, right? So, let’s make decisions about how and where we are going to spend it.

If writing is a choice, then maybe we won't keep looking at our watch and wondering WHERE we're going to FIND the time. If writing is our choice, something we really want, won't me MAKE the time?

If you want to date that special person, won't you MAKE time in you busy schedule? If you want to go to a concert, won't you MAKE time in your busy evening?

When it is something we really want, won't we make the choice to be writers? Once we commit, then don't we want to MAKE time to write?

We don’t want to squeeze our writing between our other activities; heck, as busy with our lives as most of us are, we might not ever FIND time to get our writing done.

But, if it’s something we truly want, then we become proactive…we get creative and rework our schedules to meet our desire to write rather than trying to work writing into our schedules.

I'm a list maker...something my dad taught me to do before I was ten years old. Anyway, try creating a list of how your time is used. I did this; boy, was I surprised. Here are some of the items on my list.

1.  Unavoidable Tasks--this is where you might want to add your career/job/work.

2.  Necessary Tasks--well, obviously, you will not be giving up things like cooking meals, doing laundry, gardening and yard work, getting dressed, eating meals. After I got everything listed, I tried to figure out which of these task could be reassessed, rescheduled, or maybe combined with other tasks.

3.  Tasks That Make Me Feel Good -- hey, I was not about to give up any of these...there are not that many, but they are things I really like.

4.  Tasks I Think I Should Do/Obligations--this is where I included my volunteer work but I discovered that there were tasks I assumed that I could hand off to others; e.g., picking up the kids toys and clothes. But there were also things I did that really did not need to be done. I offer my obsession for ironing sheets. Totally unnecessary but a task I took on when I thought I had time. Now, I can just fold them and put them in the linen closet and use that time for writing.

5.  Tasks That Take An Inordinate Amount Of Time--I found I was losing time from distractions--interruptions I permitted when I performing a task...interruptions that could have waited. If someone can't find a sock or the keys, I don't stop what I'm doing any longer. I let them search and offer suggestions while continuing what I am working on.

6.  Time Spent Reading, Surfing The Net, Playing Computer Games Or Games With Family, Etc.--This is a HUGE one for me and I will not say that all or even most of them are time wasters. To me, time with my family doing anything and time reading or necessary tasks. The others, well, those were my time wasters. I do not watch much TV, but there is another time waster. We do not need to be entertained when we could entertain our selves by doing something we really want to do--WRITE.

7.  Errands--Holy Cow!! I never realized how much of a drain on my time there was by making repeated trips in the same day. I didn’t consider that a trip to the grocery store involved a 15-minute drive each way…well, that was an hour of my time if I made 2 trips. That’s when I created lists for everything, not just groceries—like dropping off or picking up dry cleaning or anything I may have promised to drop off to a friend or neighbor, a list for office need, etc. That way, I was able to combine the lists and do the errands and make only one trip in the car. I also decided that if, the day AFTER I did all of my errands, someone said, “Mom, I need such-and-such,” I say I’d get it on my next trip or point them in the direction of the store.

And this is where I taught others to respect my time. It is also the point where I decided I did not need to answer the phone every time it rang. In fact, I unplug it sometimes just so I will not be disturbed. And, when I'm in my office writing, I have a little pillow I hang on the door knob that says, "Shhh, Novel In Progress"--it's a more pleasant reminder to anyone on the other side than my being interrupted and saying something like, "I don't have time", "No, you cannot go, watch TV, play on the computer, what-ever", "Unless you're bleeding, handle it yourself". Well, you get the picture. We need to insist family members respect our need for time to write.

There are a couple of other things I do and I offer them here only as suggestions for anyone who wants to take one or more up.

1.  I keep a notebook (NOT the popular electronic one...a spiral notebook full of real paper) in my car along with a pen. When I go anywhere for an appointment, I take it with me because I never know how long I'm going to have to wait. Hey, 10 minutes here and there (that could turn into half and hour) don't need to be wasted waiting. Right?

2.  I also keep tablets and pens at various locations around the house and when an idea or a thought about something I want to include in my WIP (Work In Progress), I don't have to go searching for something to write it down on and possibly forget what that idea was before I find a tablet and pen. I keep one next to the bed so that if I wake up from a dream and want to write anything part of it down...honest, I really do that.

3.  You'll find I travel with pens and tablets, also. Even if it's only a short trip to the mall--where I know I'll find a table to sit and have an iced drink or maybe something to eat and watch people...and I always see someone interesting or I might overhear an interesting conversation. Or, when I take a vacation, well, look at all the free time between activities when we get back to the hotel room or back to our cabin on the lake. 

4.  Maybe you could keep a special tablet at work and when you go on a break or take time for lunch, you could make time to write about a particular emotion, or an unusual encounter, or maybe a description of a particularly interesting character you happened to meet, or maybe work on your own manuscript.

If you decide you are going to MAKE time to write, don't hold off until tomorrow or until the kids are grown and gone, or until you retire. Begin claiming time for yourself today. 

WRITE ON! -- sorry, I just had to say that.