Finding the Time
Time. That ever elusive concept that keeps slipping through my fingers. The times I don’t have enough time to sit down and write, but I have enough time to do everything else. The Chores. Work. Cooking food.
Finding time to write is always difficult. Half of it is because I need an unbroken block of hours to write within because it takes me so long to get into the “writing” frame of mind for a particular universe. The other half is because I have lots of things to distract me, and by god am I easily distractible. The internet. The cats. The gaping hole in the lawn that will one day become part of our lounge. They’re all just sitting there calling to me so even when I sit down to write, I can’t focus my mind.
Closing the Door
In his book On Writing, Stephen King describes having a “closed door” when writing, and suggests that having a physical closed door is one of the best things to get yourself into the right frame of mind to write. I do tend to agree – removing distractions so it is just me, my laptop, and the words I want to write tend to produce the most productive writing sessions. But to get to that stage takes prep work (both mentally and physically) – I’ve got to decamp to the spare room, setup my laptop, clear my head on worrying about the cats or the weather, or maybe get some more water because now is the time I decide to act against dehydration.
I’ll find things to do so that I don’t need to do because it’s easier than sitting down with a blank screen staring at me and the unfurling fear that whatever I write down today will be complete rubbish.
Sure, you can put headphones on, banish other people from your space, put blockers on your internet so you don’t get distracted. But you’re left with yourself, and the page. And the voice inside my mind just before I step off the proverbial creative edge and dive into a scene is one of doubt.
What happens if this story isn’t good?
What happens if no one wants to read it?
What happens if it never becomes published?
That voice is my biggest battle at the moment. I’m finding even with my headphones and writing playlist on, the world is just too distracting to find time to settle my thoughts enough to write.
So how to find the time? I think it boils down to a level of dedication – not the kind of dedication which injures yourself or creates unhealthy habits that don’t work for you, but actively making a choice to sit down with your writing.
Even if you don’t actually write anything, it is the power of the choice that you have to start with. And, I suppose from that the dedication isn’t necessarily to write every day, or write a certain amount every day, but to dedicate time to actively choosing writing. Whether that time is 5 minutes or 5 hours, it’s the same choice.
When you boil it down to that, sometimes it becomes easier to find the time. I certainly find myself choosing writing, and then sitting down to write words easier than if I guilt myself with having to write every day, or write a certain amount.
The thing about choice is that it is a trade off. You have one hour of time, how are you going to spend it? Chores? Work? Writing? Relaxing?
When you consider that the choice to write, then that trade off becomes about reward. Which reward do you want – do you need to relax after a hard week? Do you want to push yourself with words and celebrating for hitting a writing goal? Will doing the chores make your mental space feel more clean too?
The thing about focussing on the trade off means that you’re not sacrificing everything to write. Sometimes the choice is to relax because this week at work has been really taxing and hard. Maybe it’s because there is a good show to watch (Mindhunter anyone?), or a book you want to read.
Or maybe it’s some self care. Exercise, meditation, cleaning the house. All of this is just as important as the choice to write because without a firm foundation of self, it’s harder to have a solid platform to create something wonderful.
For me, the trade off is the key to finding the time to write. Because it makes me reflect on what I want to do now, and what I want to get out of my same 24 hours. Sure, some days I write less, other’s I write more, but each day I sit with myself and say what is it I choose to do today?
That gives me power to control how I spend the time. And, in doing so, find the time to write.
What else has Alex been up to this month?
So, I’ve been ploughing my way though Mindhunter on Netflix (highly recommended). Maybe the topic of my next opinion piece will be my normally verbal dissection to my husband of what I love about the screenwriting of this show. Aside from Having Opinions About Plots, I have never studied screenwriting, so maybe it’ll be an opportunity to try and learn some more about what makes a good screenplay tick.
I’m also still reading The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. It’s a really interesting world, and I’m intrigued to know more. It’s always a learning curve to read a new universe and meet new characters – normally it takes me two or three readings of a book to really get under the details of a world. But this world has dragons which makes it 100x cooler and therefore I will plough on.
I’m also in the middle of some serious House DIY which has meant that my weekends are spent ripping out plasterboard and multiple trips to the tip. Its in the frustrating stage of continuing to get worse before it gets better. Much like my current WIP.
November is fast closing upon us (how did that happen?) and Nanowrimo time is back upon us. I’m still debating whether or not I can commit the time to it, but I really enjoyed my go last year so I’ll probably give it a go again. I think my chosen project will be the plotted-but-not-yet-started-or-named “Murder Mystery” WIP.
My profile over at Nanowrimo is here if you’re interested – come and be my writing buddy!
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That’s it for this month!
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Thanks for reading my stories! See you again next month!
Photo Credit – Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unpslash