habits

Making Time to Write When There Seems to Be So Little

First and foremost, I’d like to point out that, in my experience, there is always more time available to write than there seems to be – it’s about making a commitment and maximizing on opportunities. For instance, I’ve been on Christmas break for two weeks. I enjoyed lazy days filled with coffee, revision, and Downton Abbey, with no care given to the time of day. This translated to going to sleep at 3am and waking at 10 or 11 (plus a late afternoon nap or two). I forced myself to wake up early this Sunday morning to break the cycle and spent the day at work prepping for the new semester. I happily fell asleep at 9pm. Problem? It’s 2am and I’m wide awake. I could toss and turn in my bed, or watch TV, but I’m taking the opportunity to write a blog post instead. Perhaps by the time I’m done, I’ll be ready to squeeze in 3 more hours of sleep.

I point all this out to say, seize the opportunities as they arise. And when they don’t arise naturally, make them. Value your craft. Put it above those potentially time draining activities like watching TV or staring at the ceiling, wishing you were asleep. This is going to be more important for me than usual, as I enter my most chaotic time of year. As a teacher and lacrosse coach, I’ll be leaving home at 6:15 every weekday morning and not returning until at least 12 hours later. Game day? Make that about 15 hours. Throw in all the grading and planning many teachers must do at home and there is minimal time for anything but dinner and sleep on Monday through Friday evenings (it’s a good thing I like my job). I’m still amazed that I somehow managed to finish my first draft and complete the final semester of graduate school last spring without neglecting myself, cat, students, or team. That proves that it is indeed possible to find the time. Oh, and shout out to any teacher-coach-writer-moms /dads out there. I know you exist and WOW… It’s a struggle just caring for myself. Go you!

Anyway, here’s how it usually works out for me: I do very little writing, if any, Monday through Thursday. I choose to look at the writing and revision of my novel as another job. This job has a flexible schedule, but there are certain weekly requirements (writing and revision goals I’ve set in advance). I choose to spend the weekends (minus a few lacrosse filled Saturday’s) working to meet those requirements. The problem? Making time for friends and family. I end up turning down lots of invitations. Often times, “just lunch” turns into a five hour outing- an enjoyable outing, but one that most certainly has negative consequences on progress with my book. Does that mean I never see friends or family in the spring (semester)? No! I take advantage of breaks from school and 3 day weekends and I play catch up with my writing when I’ve indulged in a playful weekend. It helps that my friends and family know what this time of year is like for me and they understand what my writing means to me. Still, I appreciate that they also know when it’s time to forcibly draw the hermit out of her shell.

The take away? If you want it badly enough, you make it work. No exceptions. Repeat this to yourself over and over on tough days and you’ll look back with pride, wondering how the heck you managed it.

Happy writing… Whenever it is you make the time.

-ED

Follow me on Twitter: @ElleDesa_Writes

I’m on Pinterest, too: Planning My 1st Book , Writing Inspiration and Tips

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Summer’s almost over

3 more days… then it’s back to waking up at 5am! I’ve been desperately trying to get my sleep schedule back on track, but I continue to struggle to pull myself out of the bed before 10am. At this rate, I’m not too hopeful about correcting that by Monday, but that’s what pre-planning week is for,  getting used to waking up… that, and going to meetings, and getting my classroom set up, and preparing my syllabi, and blabbing away at open house, and getting ready to meet 150 bright eyed 14 year olds on August 4th.

Summer has gone by pretty quickly. I didn’t do, or go anywhere particularly special, but I can’t complain. It was a good break. I am disappointed in how incredibly lazy I’ve been. You’d think, with 6 weeks off, I would at least keep my apartment pristine and work out regularly, especially considering that I didn’t go out of town, at all. Nope, I spent quite a large amount of time sitting on my bum. I can already imagine the burn I’ll feel in my calves and feet when I go back to standing on my feet a minimum of seven hours a day. Granted, I wasn’t doing absolutely nothing while lounging on the couch. I’m very proud of the time I’ve spent working on my manuscript and I’ve been doing very well in grad school. This week I was even able to get a head start on some back to school stuff. I just have to find some balance. Gotta make time to clean, time to eat, time to read, time to study, time to write, time to work, time to take care of myself, and time for friends and family. I’ll be a stressed out mess if I can’t develop some kind of consistent routine.

This weekend will be particularly busy as I try to get my life in order before Monday. I’m still trying to hit 30,000 words by Sunday as well. With a current word count 26,538, I going to have to have a couple of spectacular writing days. :-/

Wish me luck!

-ED