Finding Time To Write
It wasn't until a few months ago that I decided to tackle my writing from a different angle: Being kinder to myself. Recently I set into motion a few writing goals that I am delighted to say are coming to fruition. Finding time to write while my main job is to be a mom (to an elementary school aged son) can be a challenge at times. I am determined to find a way and I would like to show you how I will make time and accomplish my writing goals. Let's dive into my process.
Building a Writing Habit to Make Time for Writing
When it comes to getting my writing done, A master plan is everything. I know I must create time for writing and without my master plan I procrastinate and when I procrastinate, I end up back where I started, wasting more time. I've realized I need to know ahead of time what I’ll be focusing on, where I’ll be writing and for how long. My plan is that when it comes time to start writing, I’ll show up ready for some keyboard action.
I need to spend time preparing myself to write before I show up to the keyboard. One of my lessons I have learned is, I need to do my research outside of my writing time and not during it! From my experience, stopping to check that one thing, really does break my writing flow. I'm sent off on a magic carpet ride, surfing the wild wonders of the internet - never to return.
Now I make notes if I get stuck that I need to check on something and I keep going. I also like to craft a book outline so I know what each chapter is about. I'm trying a new way and implementing some mind maps for each chapter along with a brief summary.
Setting Up My Writing Space
I know that my writing environment has a huge influence on how my writing sessions flow.
I'm fortunate enough that I have a space dedicated to writing. For the longest time I've called it my office now I want to rename it as my study because it makes me smile. I'm all for finding the joy in life these days. My study consists of my computer, motivational quotes, bookshelves jammed with books, a comfy armchair, drawings and crafts from my son and all my nick nacks I collect that bring me joy. It's a comfortable place where I can stay focused for long periods of time. I’ve found that the idea is to have an environment that triggers “it’s time for writing” and as I enter my study it does that.
Keeping My Mind-Map And Book Outline Handy
In the past I have shown up many times to write only to realize I had no plan for what I was writing. Developing my mind maps for the chapters and having my general book outline is helping me to start getting some pages written. If I start writing without having done these important steps first, I eventually end up stuck. I'm actively making sure I have my outline as a checklist to get my words down on paper with purpose. Now each of my writing block sessions gives me a clear purpose as to what I am going to write.
One of the biggest obstacles I face is being pulled out of my “writing zone” by message indicators, vibrations, pop-ups, and a whole list of writing excuses.
I am trying to unplug myself from all things connected to my phone and the Internet.
Overcoming My Writing Excuses
Excuses are present in literally everyone. Yes it's true! I have these things I tell myself to stop me from sitting down and making time for what I want to do - write! I have all these lies I tell myself, because they are, in fact, lies. Once I noticed this, it was much easier to take ownership of my excuses and overcome them. It's still a work in process every day, however I'm getting better and I'm motivated to succeed.
Establishing My Writing Schedule & Time Slots
When time is limited, it’s important for me to plan and use it. I am actively taking action by realizing and overcoming my writing excuses. The next thing I want to do is decide:
How long my writing sessions are going to be? 25 minutes
How many writing sessions am I doing today? 3
For example, I work with the Pomodoro System and adjust it a little bit, I try to complete three 25 minute writing sessions in a day. I write for 25 minutes, take a ten-minute break instead of the usual 5 minutes and repeat. During that break, I get up and move around, grab a cup of tea or make a phone call to catch up with friends just to decompress. This system works really well and is great for getting focused and writing in short bursts. If I want to go longer, I set my timer for 50 minutes.
Setting My Word Count Target
Many people get overwhelmed when they think about writing a book. Me included. So now I have figured out how many words are needed for my writing genre. If it's short chapter books for kids then I need to keep it under 10,000 words. If I'm writing a short story I tried to keep it to under 1000 words. I'm usually around 750 words which works out to a 5 min read. Once I know what type of story I'm writing I can work backwards from there. By tracking my progress, I have a clear indication of how close I'm getting to my goal. It’s also highly motivating to know I'm making progress. Woo Hoo!
There’s a famous proverb that says: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
I know that if I spend my entire time writing, I'm going to need some R&R at the end of it. So I've made time for writing, I have to be sure to make time for celebrating achieving the goal.
I know if I don't reward myself with a trip to Target to walk around or a trip to Starbucks for a well deserved London Fog Tea Latte I burn out and feel less inspired when the next writing session comes around. I deserve a break.
I usually end the weekend by engaging in some fun activities such as:
Watching a movie
Spending time with husband, son and dog
Taking a hike
Taking a drive to the beach while thinking about future goals and what I accomplished.
Meditating or reading from my TBR pile
I'm always trying to allow myself to refresh as well as relax. I find I have much more joy in the process of my writing sessions, which then I make more time for writing.
There’s one more stage after I have wrapped things up at the end of my writing day.
This is the important step. If I fail to plan, I plan to fail. So before I pack up, I take ten minutes to draft a quick action plan turning my master plan into manageable tasks. This consists of the book research, chapter outlining, and anything else I need to do outside of my story writing process.
I'm now looking at my calendar that stretches before me, my writing schedule and book outline with the decision to have an appreciation for the present and the hope of a future brimming with joy from setting up my time to write some new stories and spending time with my family.
Thanks for stopping by and now go read a book!