by Estelle Ryan
About ten years ago, I started joking about a get-rich-quick scheme I had thought up. I was going to sell time. I knew this was a fail-proof plan to become a multi-millionaire overnight. I mean, who wouldn’t want longer weekends? A few hours extra every day to wind down after you’ve done all the chores? Right? Well, I ran into a few problems with my scheme – I couldn’t find a supplier. But everyone I spoke to was lining up to buy time from me. It really would’ve worked. Sigh.
So, where do we find time to write? Most writers are not in the fortunate position to be doing it full time. Even those who can afford to, hold on to their day jobs. Then you still have the spouse, kids, house, family, friends and other activities to all take little bites out of your time until you are left with barely enough to sleep.
All logic points to organisation and discipline. But those two words bring forth all the negative associations and rebellion against it. In our everyday lives we are often forced into little boxes. When we have to add another box to our private lives… no, it will destroy all the pleasure we derive from writing.
And this is when I listen to a dear friend of mine who one day blithely gave the most fabulous nugget of wisdom. *Let it become an unthinking habit*. She compared it to brushing your teeth. Every morning and evening you brush your teeth and don’t even think about this. It’s part of your day, part of your ritual that has become automated, mechanical over years and years of repetition. This method of finding time to write also applies to exercise, studying, preparing healthy meals, etc.
At first there will be some thinking and organisation (and discipline) involved. You have to sit down and think of when the best time is for you to write. Next you have to create the perfect, or close to perfect environment for that. And then you have to DO this. Again and again and again and again until it become part of your daily routine.
This is what I did: My best time to write is before 3pm. Any later than that and I have trouble sleeping with my mind being too stimulated. Because of this, my writing time is in the mornings. Where? At home there are simply too many distractions. I work almost exclusively in coffee shops. There I can focus for hours without the sudden need to check something on the internet. You can see loads of photos of these places on my Facebook page. I choose my café’s carefully – music, ambience and the lack of internet are important. But, after years of doing this, I’m now so conditioned, that even with internet, when I sit down at a coffee shop table my focus is on writing, not surfing or fooling around on the internet.
Possibly the most important action I took in finding/making time for writing was when I became selfish, protective and not-negotiable about my writing time. To friends and others it might seem to be a fun time, but in actual fact I am working. That time is now booked as a business meeting and I communicate it as such. Yes, I have loads of fun while writing in a coffee shop, but that time is mine to work, to write! If I had not been as selfish and protective of that time, I would not have published 11 books in less than 6 years.
This might work for you or not. Consider adjusting this to fit into your life, your daily routine and give it a go. With the exception of crazy situations, there is always time if you really want to find it.
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Genre – Mystery
Rating – PG13
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