Has it been days since you’re written? Weeks, perhaps? Months?! Maybe you’ve been too busy, or else you just haven’t felt inspired to write. Plus, Dexter’s on tonight, dirty dishes and laundry are calling your name, your kids aren’t sleeping through the night yet (which means you’re tired), and every time you sit down to a blank page that darned Internet gets in the way…
With the new year well underway, why keep making excuses? These Wp’ instructors share their tips to help you carve out some writing time for yourself… now!
TRICKS OF THE TRADE
Write in the cracks and crevices of a busy schedule. That five minutes before your kid comes out of the school? Writing time. Waiting for a plane? Get out your notebook. Your date had to take a phone call? You know what to do.
Consider backwards housekeeping. That means write as soon as your household is quiet (kids off to school, etc.). If no one notices it, don’t clean it! Always keep a flashlight pen near your bed and a notebook with you at all times. And when you have an incredible idea while driving, call yourself and leave a message.
I carry a notebook with me wherever I go. Throughout the day I think about my story while I do other things. In the car, at the gym, picking up dry cleaning, I jot down ideas and lines of dialogue as they comes to me. When I sit down at the computer I weave these thoughts and ideas into my screenplay. This makes writing seem active, fun, and effortless.
SET YOUR ALARM
I get up at 5:30 or 6 AM each morning, seven days a week so that I can write “fiction” before the rest of the world awakes and my “real life” intrudes.
I get up every morning at the shocking hour of five and by six, I am at a cafe that does not have Internet, writing fiction when I’m most alert and sharpest. I sit without any distractions: no family, no cats, no pull of the laundry waiting to be folded, no thought of appointments to keep. Later in the day I always try to get back to writing, and usually I manage it. But those two solid hours of work, 360 or so days a year, form the core of my productive storytelling output… and I do it just by showing up every day.
FIND YOUR INSPIRATION… OR NOT
I once told a student you can’t wait to get “inspired” to write–set aside a certain time every day as if it were your job. Sometimes inspiration comes as you’re writing. Even if it doesn’t, keep writing. I could tell she was disappointed in my advice. It wasn’t very exciting. She attended a drum circle instead. She reported later that it didn’t seem to help. In contrast, I have a friend who wanted to be a writer but worked full-time. He’d come home at 6 pm, eat dinner, and sleep until midnight. Then he’d wake up and work all night on his spec scripts. He became a writer on numerous shows. So the time is there if you really want to find it.
People tend to think in terms of inspiration when trying to make time for writing. Inspiration is slippery. Forget inspiration. Sit and write. Every day. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s awful. Collect the good, forget the awful.
MAKE IT DAILY
The way I make writing a part of my life (which includes being a single mom with two amazing high-maintenance kids) is to try to write a little every day. Writing in scenes helps so much. Think of writing as your escape from life’s challenges rather than as another chore. It will make it more fun for you and for your readers.
Carve out a specific time for writing every day (even if it’s just a half hour)… and stick to it!
Find a non-negotiable slot of time you can devote to writing and make that a habit. It may mean getting up 30 minutes earlier before the boom of the day begins, or taking an hour on a Friday to sit and write. You have to make your writing time as important as anything else.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
I think of “writing time” as pleasure, as “me time” and as what I really want to be doing. That’s a completely different mindset from “a task I have to get done.” Even though it’s my profession, I reconnect most days to the fact that it’s my passion, too.
Mae Respicio is the Program Representative in Onsite Creative Writing.