Saturday, January 8, 2011

Writing with a Busy Schedule


I awoke before the sun the other day. Of course, I snoozed my alarm a few times and lamented having to get out of bed. But then I realized that this time is giving me so much. It is providing me with a chance to write before the stress of the 17 hour day settles in. And so I embraced it with gratitude.

It felt secretive---intimate---to be doing something while the rest of the world was hushed. Headphones in place, notebook at my side, espresso beans when I needed them. Just my work and words.

(Check out my essentials: caffeine, the amazingly large Post-It notes, colorful gel pens, hand lotion....)

These days, I have been trying to find ways to fit writing in with my schedule. I know that everyone is doing a million things on a daily basis, so I thought I'd share what has helped me:



1. Giving myself a 30 minute block to just write and do nothing else. For me, this required cutting out a television show.

2. Carrying a tiny notebook and jotting down bullet points of inspiration whenever they came.

3. Using a portion of my lunch hour to edit or plot the next chapter.

When I take a break, I do something entirely non-writing related, like running, yoga, dance, or oh yeah, study for classes. I'm always impressed by how so many writers balance their families, full time jobs, and other duties with their writing! I hope I can get to that level someday :)

How do you manage to write with your schedule?
What are the essentials in your work space?

21 comments:

  1. I usually block off an hour in the evening after I've practiced my guitar. I also slip in some writing during the day. Essentials? Some rocking tunes and Hot Tamales!

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  2. Most of my writing happens during lunch hour, on my train commute and during the time between getting home from work and my daughter's bus arriving (and sometimes up to an hour after she gets home if I'm very, very lucky).

    I've had to be adaptable about "workspace" so what's essential varies. When I'm near a computer I need music, elsewhere I need any old paper and a good pen.

    I think the habits you're developing of not needing a huge block of time will serve you well in balancing writing with another career. Good for you!

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  3. It sounds like you've got a good balance at the moment. Congrats! I'm SO not a morning person, I really doubt I could get up earlier to write. When I do get up early, it seems to take my brain longer to start working lol. But if it works for you, congrats! :)

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  4. Aw, Meghan I'm so happy to know you are not a morning person! I'm actually quite a night owl myself so that early morning will probably be the only one, haha.

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  6. When I saw your pic, I homed in on the large Post-Its immediately! I've gotta get those!!!

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  7. waking up early is essential to my success as a writer! unfortunately, I'm not always successful at getting up early!

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  8. "It felt secretive---intimate---to be doing something while the rest of the world was hushed." Yes! You captured how I feel about writing in the morning. I must have coffee, my softest blanket, and slippers on my feet. My cat thinks she's essential too!

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  9. Hi Saumya...I am planning to wake up early so I can get uninterrupted writing time. But as I am battling a cold and throat infection the medicines make me drowsy.

    I would love to read your first few pages or chapters. I have emailed you about it. Its just that I never got the time to email you yesterday. Looking forward to being your Critique Partner.

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  10. you've been tagged at my blog!

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  11. Good for you, making writing a priority! I'm one of those people who balances writing with a growing family (who I homeschool)...and the only way it works for me is to get up before the sun (and the kids!). One of the reasons that works for me is that I had already developed the habit of writing before I started a family. So if you work at it now, you'll find you can balance whatever you need to, whenever you need to.
    Best of luck!

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  12. This is my biggest problem. Life has been nuts lately and it's been impossible to get quality writing time in. I'm hoping February brings some extra time with it! :)

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  13. Faith: Wow, home schooling and writing?! That is awesome that you manage to do it all.

    Jemi: I hope things calm down :) Sometimes we just have to put our writing on the back burner!

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  14. Ahh.. yES.. life has just been too crazy lately, and it's so hard to find the time to get everything done! You have a great plan worked out though :)

    I just try to squeeze it in when I can... I've made goals, set time out, etc... but I find I'm never able to stick with it. I hope this year will be better... good luck with everything!

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  15. I'm more of a burn-the-midnight-oil kind of writer. Finding that balance between real job, family, and writing can be super-tricky. Unfortunately, I get many of my best ideas while I'm driving or teaching classes! The notebook thing works, if you can remember to bring it. ;)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. Interesting bit of trivia - I just finished my rewrite the moment you came by!

    We studied a bit about Indian dance in college. It's amazingly intricate and beautiful. Reminded me a lot of ballet with exactly how specific and detailed the movement is. How long have you danced?

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  16. Thanks, Writing Nut :) So happy that you found my blog. Good luck with all of your goals! I'm sure you'll accomplish everything you want.

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  17. I always admire people that are able to fit in a little bit of writing in half hour slots! It takes me a half hour to even get my brain in gear to START writing! I usually only write on the weeekends when I can carve out at least two or thee hours. But I still love your advice.

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  18. oh, i too love that intimacy of doing things when the world's asleep. it inspires, fires the imagination...

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  19. Stolen minutes for sure. But I keep a pen and paper with me at all times and usually I stay up late. :)

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  20. Saum!! I've been trying to write things down as soon as I get inspiration. Just blogging whenever an idea or theme pops into my mind. I've been busy in the research publication world, but have been taking time to rest and just practice dance for an hour each day too... that definitely helps me unwind. Seems like we're on a similar schedule, though I think right now you are far more busy! =) Good luck!

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