Life Slam Dances With Itself: Ten Ways to Find The Time

From December 23 until January 4, I was on vacation, which translated to “free to write at all times during the day and night” and/or read about writing, listen to podcasts about writing, hang out with The Wife, watch The Wire marathon, see movies. Nirvana.
On January 5, I returned to work and my other obligations. I did a bit of writing-related emails over morning tea, thought about the novel during the shower and dressing and driving to work.
And then it stopped. Work was here. Lesson plans to polish. Kids to greet. Classes to teach. And all of this continues to be great. Before becoming a teacher, I spent years as a reporter writing about dead kids. I have never forgotten how that felt. Every day I walk into a school that is crackling full of the living, breathing live energy that kids exude is a blessing for me. They do not even know how they absolutely bring any room to life, and I am so grateful for my time with them.
We But it isn’t writing. The reality is that work takes energy I was applying to writing during that vacation (stay-cation, really, I barely left the house); this is a simple fact of life with which we all must all deal.
So, how do we get writing in during a busy work day? I have a few ideas.
1) Recognize the worth of the day job. It pays the bills, and finances your writing life. Be grateful and committed when there. By doing this you free your energy away from negativity and toward productivity.
2) Find your rituals. There are times in the day when you can write. For me, morning tea is a good time to write something short. I am writing this during morning tea (yeah, Barry’s Irish!). I find I can keep up with my FB Author Page and my blog at this time. Find a short space of time just for you and the writing.
3) There are other periods of time wherein you can write, find them and use them, too.. For me, I find I have some time after work and before dinner, and after dinner but before meetings or just collapsing. I took advantage of them yesterday and got two key chunks of the novel rewritten. One was the Forward, which always worries me (“Who did I forgot to thank?”), so it was a relief to get another draft done (I will revisit), and I went through Chapter One twice. This is the fourth draft, so most should be polish, with an option to rewrite should a problem reveal itself. But when it was time to stop, I felt I’d moved the work forward. That’s all any of us can do.
4) But I’m tiiiiiiiiirrrrrred. Yes, we all are. Take a power nap. Five minutes on the couch and then up and at’em, whether it be cold water splashed in the face, or push ups or, for me whatever song I am obsessed with that day (right now it is “Kansas City” sung by Marcus Mumford on the New Basement Tapes CD). Play it once, sing your ass off, then turn to the writing. Whatever works.
5) But I missed a day…. Forget what happened yesterday, that’s gone. Find some time to write this day (“They’ll come a day when pens and keyboards fail and we do not write, but it is not this day!”). Live in the moment when it comes to the day’s writing.
6) The victory is sitting down and powering on. Once you get into the first paragraph, the time is there, the writing is happening, even if it is rewriting. Victory.
7) Trick yourself into productivity. Many writers use the trick of either stopping in the middle of a scene so you can pick up there the next day, or going back to the last chapter from the day before and rereading, rewriting that, then going forward with new writing. If that works for you, Victory!
8) Use a to Do List or a Story Map. Other writers use a To-Do list or Writing Map as a guide for writing. If that works for you, keep it near your writing area and just sit down, check what’s next, and leap in. Again, whatever works.
9) Put a carrot on that stick. Sometimes I need a little more to get me to the table. Chips Ahoy works well. A good cuppa tea works better. A combination of both works best. Tonight, I will get some writing in by telling myself that doing so allows me to enjoy a show I want to watch (never reward yourself before you write– you’ll wind up bloated from cookies after watching seven hours of junk TV). Do whatever gets you to the writing.
10) My personal favorite – index cards, smart phones, etc. I carry something to write down ideas all the time. Most of the time it is index cards because I can manipulate them, re-order scene ideas to work for me, etc. but the notepad on the Smartphone has proven useful because I can write or dictate ideas and email them to myself, then cut and paste into whatever I am working on.
Remember, you will find some of these ideas work and some don’t, for you. That’s the key. Find what works for you and do that. Don’t give up, don’t get down on yourself, just write something every day.

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</ Ryan is author of City of Woe, available on Kindle and Nook, and in print. For more info, click here.<

About chrisryanwrites

My name is Christopher Ryan. I am a former award-winning journalist turned high school teacher, and I have written since reading S.E. Hinton's THE OUTSIDERS when I was in elementary school. I have independently published an award-winning debut novel, CITY OF WOE, plus the prequel short story collection CITY OF SIN, the sequel novel CITY OF PAIN, a high school thriller novel GENIUS HIGH, and several high adventure novelettes for the Rapid Reads series featuring Alex Simmons' African-American adventurer BLACKJACK All are available via amazon.com, as is my children's book, THE FERGUSON FILES - THE MYSTERY SPOT. Additionally, I was nominated for a supporting actor award for my work in the multiple award-winning independent film, CLANDESTINE, from Feenix Films. I blog about writing, life, pop culture, the journey of learning to promote my independently published work, my efforts to secure a traditional publishing contract, and my career as a teacher.
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