Having just read an interesting post by Nathan Bransford about not having to write every day, I thought I’d add my 2 cents as well. (Since we round to the nearest 5 cents in Australia, I can actually hand out 2 cents to all writers without beggaring myself in the process. I don’t do foreign exchange, though, sorry.)
Nathan advises writers to do “whatever works for you”, and here’s what’s worked really well for me when I really wanted to complete the manuscript I’d been working on for about ten years while still working full-time.
Designate a “Creative Day”
Originally, the idea behind it was to get the kids to stop relying on electronic devices so much. They seemed to believe they had the right to watch a movie every day, plus get their “half an hour of video game time” (that’s our limit, but the tricksy little hobbitses got around it by watching each other’s half an hour… grrr!), plus use the PC for homework. Ok, we can’t get around that last one, but the others are already too much in some parents’ books.
Thus we decided that we’d have a day where they couldn’t watch TV or a DVD, or play games on handhelds or consoles or computers or tablets or phones or whatever else there is. They had to do something… creative. Like craft something, paint or draw something, build something with Lego or the like, play with their toys, play board games (just like the grandpa in The Princess Bride says, “When I was your age, television was called books,” we told the kids, “When we were your age, MMOs were called board games…” – but no, I wasn’t into D&D). Even reading is fine (imagining things is creative, right?).
The unexpected side-effect of this was that we, the parents, couldn’t really be couch potatoes while the kids were being creative. Using the “PC for homework” analogy, I convinced them that I should be allowed to sit in front of my computer after work and write.
Wednesdays worked best for us, and I was lucky enough to be able to arrange it so that I could stop working a bit earlier on Wednesdays and use the remainder of the afternoon and most of the evening to write until my fingers bled. Figuratively, not literally.
Between Creative Day every Wednesday and the time I took to write on the weekends, I made an amazing amount of progress and wrote more in the last year of working on that manuscript than I did in the nine years before that. (More details on my progress/failure/revamp there in an earlier post, The Road So Far.)
What works for you?
This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you find you’re having a hard time squeezing in some quality writing time between work, family, and other hobbies, perhaps this can help you as it helped me. If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford writing full-time, I’m sure you’ll recall a time when you struggled to find the time. If you can squeeze in an hour or so every day, brilliant, do that. Whatever works for you, just make sure you keep on writing!
Feel free to share your tips and tell me what works for you in the comments, or blog about it yourself and let me know where to read about it.