Morning chores. Getting the kids dressed and off to school or other activities. Work. Dentist and doctor appointments. After school activities. Laundry. Meal preparation. House cleaning. Car maintenance. Social time. Shopping for groceries and other essentials. Church. Lawn maintenance. Date night with the spouse or with a new acquaintance. Balancing the check book.
…writing the next chapter in your novel.
Where do you fit in this last activity with your busy, busy schedule? If you’ve thought about becoming a writer, when do find time to start a project? Do you outline and how much time do you spend on it? How long do you take to draw up character profiles? Then, there’s the all important research on aspects about your story to which you don’t have all the answers. Also, you’ve heard about a writers’ critique group meeting weekly at the coffee shop and you’ve been planning on visiting. How can you fit it all in with everything else going on in your life?
Some people can’t but those who want to, will find time. Will make time. It’s as simple as that.
See, writing is something special. So are sewing classes, martial arts training, bowling leagues, basketball games, and volunteer work, along with many other activities. If you aren’t interested in an activity or not serious about it, then it will fall by the wayside and you’ll take up something more interesting.
However, I think writers are a special kind of people. We come from all walks of life and yet, at a conference or a critique group, can almost instantly form a friendship. Why? Because we’re all attending for the same reason: to learn more about writing. Whether you’re a beginner, about to be published, or a veteran author, you attend these meetings and conferences to learn about writing, to make contacts with others who may be of assistance in the future.
So, if as writer, you are special, and you are serious about writing, you will, as I said, make time to write. You will set aside a portion of the day or the week and you will choose a place in which you are alone with a laptop or pen and paper and you will write. The time can be midnight or two in the afternoon. The place can be a bedroom, a study, or outside at a park. I would suggest you distance yourself from as many distractions as possible, which means no children, no TV, no Internet surfing, and no cell phone texting. Music is fine if you are comfortable with it. If you are in a restaurant or a coffee shop with people around, make sure you are still concentrating on your work and not eavesdropping on the conversation at the next table.
How long will your writing session last and how much do you write? The answers are as many as the number of writers in the world today. I’ve heard everything from two hours every morning from for two hours, to every afternoon between two and four, from a chapter a day to 2000 words, and so many more. Every writer must find what works for him or her.
A good way to approach this is to set a reasonable goal. You may think 5000 words are attainable or be satisfied with only a chapter, a paragraph, even a single sentence. Whatever works for you, do it and congratulate yourself after you are done. If you have written a single sentence before returning to other activities, be proud of yourself for accomplishing something. Maybe next time, you’ll strive for two sentences or an entire paragraph. I’m not being facetious. I’m telling you, it’s up to you, but write something, complete your goal, and stick with this goal on a regular basis. Of course there will be unforeseen circumstances and you will work around them.
I’ve interviewed many authors and I always ask them to share their writing method. The follow up question is: Your method may not work for me. Any suggestions? All of them, in one form or another have the same advice: Just start writing. What they mean is, your method will be molded as you write. You will see opportunities and periods of time where you can jot down a few notes (or sentences or paragraphs or 1000 words). At work during break time or a lull in the action. During a layover at the airport. Waiting for the bus. Waiting for your kids to exit school. A spare hour or two when nothing worthwhile is on the television.
I once read a statistic from the Jenkins Group how eighty percent of Americans want to be an author. However, how many take the time–make the time–to fulfill that want? Talk to other writers. Listen to authors speak about how they schedule their writing. Read time management books if you think they will help. Ultimately, though, it comes down to you.
Do you want to write? Are you serious? If the answer to both those questions is yes, then you will discover when the time is right.