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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!