Whenever, Wherever: Finding Time to Write

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Turn Down Time into Writing Time and Watch Your Creativity Blossom

Stephen King does it every day.  So does J.K. Rowling.  Philip Roth does it every day, too.  He even does it standing up!

Successful authors know that daily writing is the key to creating a rich, rewarding writing life.  But for those of us with busy families, jobs, and other commitments that leave little time for creativity, the thought of writing a grocery list, let alone a sentence, can seem daunting.

Your Time, Your Way
The good news is that although it may seem daunting, it’s definitely doable.  By using down time, you know, those annoying little pockets of time when you’re forced to wait and your blood pressure is forced to rise? Yeah, those! By using that time to write, instead of wait, you accomplish two big things.  First, you write! Second, you’re using your time to your advantage.

Keep a pad and pen with you all the time, and start watching for those moments when you could sneak in a sentence, or a paragraph.  Even writing the seed of an idea gets your creative mind working.  That habit keeps building on itself, and before you know it you’re writing those words you always knew you had inside you.  Once it starts, keep going!

Here are a few situations where you might put your own down time to use:

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  • Grocery Store Check-Out Lines. The worst! They’re notoriously long and slow.  I used to pass the time reading People magazine (oh, poor – pick one – Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Aniston, Kate plus 8, etc.) It was a guilty pleasure, but I find a lot more pleasure in pinpointing that character trait that’s been eluding my main character or the plot point that’s been vexing me.
  • Waiting for the Kids. When I was a kid, my mother used to get in the car about 15 minutes before we had to go anywhere. All these years later, I realize she wasn’t obsessively early (well, she was a little), she just liked the quiet time she found in the car while the rest of us were running around in a chaotic frenzy.  If your kids are at an age where they can get themselves ready, let them!  If you’re constantly running around town picking them up or dropping them off, use the waiting time to write.  Write.  Write.

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  • During the Commute. This is for those who take public transit, of course, but driving commuters can benefit, too.  Traffic jams and long stop lights could allow you to sneak in a few words here and there, but for goodness sake, err on the side of extreme caution.
  • Waiting Rooms. When I typed in “What to do in a waiting room,” Google came back with 28,200,000 results.  Do you think this is a universal annoyance?  It might be for most, but for writers, it’s a prime time to get the pen moving.

These are just a few ideas, but I’d love to hear from you.  Do you have a secret time stash where you can always sneak in some writing?  Share it here, and we can all benefit!


3 thoughts on “Whenever, Wherever: Finding Time to Write

  1. Interesting that you should post this now Olivia, but before I get to the reason why, allow me to apologize for missing last night’s silent write-in. I was so exhausted I just couldn’t stay up long enough, (and that may be a problem for me continuously – I’m an early to bed, late to rise kinda gal). 😉

    Back to the subject at hand. While waiting on a prescription to be filled today, (interestingly enough, the medicine is in the hopes of combating that exhaustion), I was looking at magazines and when I saw a Bride’s magazine I remembered that my MC and her daughter are planning the daughter’s wedding. I had been meaning to research different gowns and cakes for the wedding, but hadn’t gotten around to it. So while a couple of people gave me strange looks as they passed, I had the magazine propped open on the rack and my notebook and pen out, writing down websites to look at later for choosing her gown and cake. No way was I gonna spend $15 on a magazine I wouldn’t need but for a couple pages! So while I didn’t exactly use the time to write, I did at least contribute the time to my writing, which counts, right?

    I’m notorious for writing while driving, and, I admit, do not use the caution I should. When I have a thought, if I don’t get it down quick it’s gone. If my sons are with me I’ll say the thought out loud over and over until I come to a red light, then write it down while waiting for them to tell me when the light turns green. I’ve received many a shaken head at such habits. 🙂

    It is very important that we get those thoughts down immediately, and even when our minds are blank, if we just take that pen and paper out, then look around, it won’t take long for the blankness to disappear. Thanks for the great reminder!

  2. Oh by the way, although I didn’t get that writing time in last night, I did get my #fridayflash for this week edited while waiting in the doctor’s office this morning, (although I’ve cut as much as I can and it’s probably still going to be a short instead of a flash).
    It’s funny – most people have to wait a long time in doctor’s offices, but my doctor is super-duper prompt, and I rarely have to wait more than ten minutes to be called back, then just ten more for her to come in. Sometimes I get irritated that I’m serviced so quickly because it cuts into my writing time. 🙂

    Obviously, as much as I’m chatting right now, I need to be WRITING! Let’s hop to it! 🙂

  3. Deanna, I can just picture you scribbling away at a traffic light while your kids are yelling, “GO, MOM!!! IT’S GREEN!” Thanks for this comment adding your comment! This is exactly the kind of thing I was thinking about when I wrote this post. Of course, writing is the most important thing, but when you’re working on something as big as a novel … or even if it’s a flash fiction, a magazine article, whatever it might be … it’s so important to somehow note these insights that strike us wherever and whenever!

    Another tip, which I have put to use a few times … when inspiration strikes and you don’t have anything to write with, call yourself on your cell or home phone and record it! Brilliant, right? I wish I could remember who shared it with me!

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