There’s never enough time for me to write. And yet, somehow, I always manage to finish a novel in time to meet the deadline.
If you are a writer, you’ll find the time. It’s as simple as that. Stop procrastinating! Perhaps you’ve persuaded yourself it’s important to do the washing or to buy the groceries or wash the car before you start to write? And then there’s the matter of a full time job or a new baby or that big contract at work that you must finish by Tuesday. But if you are a writer, you must write.
I know I sound like a hard task-master and you’re probably muttering under your breath, ‘What does she know? She doesn’t have a life as busy as mine.’ Nearly all of us have busy lives, myself included, but sometimes you have to let things go. I’m a perfectionist and it’s really hard for me not to do everything I can to the absolute best of my ability. But I’ve learned I can’t have perfectly ironed sheets and all meals made from scratch served with home-grown vegetables, work late at the office every day, have perfectly varnished nails and write a book to a fierce deadline. So I don’t try anymore. You have to prioritise ruthlessly and that means allowing yourself to make time in your busy schedule to write.
Perhaps this is harder for women as we are so prone to guilt. I hear a little voice in my head saying, ‘A mother’s place is in the wrong’. Guilt may mean that you put the needs, or wants, of others first without placing sufficient importance on your need to write. It’s surprising how you can cut corners on your daily ‘must-do’ list without anyone noticing. If you only iron the pillowslips I’ll bet your partner never notices that the sheets are a bit crumpled and if you sprinkle parsley on bought soup he’ll assume it’s home made. Learn to delegate or if there is no one to delegate to, learn to say NO. (I admit this is a hard one and I’m still working on it) I paint my nails while I’m thinking what to write.
Once you start carving out these little pieces of time for your writing, make sure that you actually use them to write. Even ten minutes can produce a few sentences or allow you to research a fact you’re not sure about. Get up half an hour early or go to bed half an hour later and write. Edit what you wrote yesterday while you are waiting for the potatoes to boil, ponder on plot problems while waiting in a queue and scribble in a notebook while you’re travelling to work on the bus. Tell the children firmly that you need two hours on Sunday afternoon to write but after that you’ll take them to the park.
These small chunks of time on a regular basis are valuable. They allow you to keep your plot and characters in your mind all the time so that you remember how the story hangs together when you do make the time to write. Think of it like this. Write three hundred words every day for a year and you will have over a hundred thousand words, which is a perfect length for a novel. Surely you can find time to write three hundred words a day?
Here are my tips in a nutshell:
- Writers must write
- Stop procrastinating
- Carve out small chunks of time