I went to a workshop recently and the writer/historian/researcher said that the only way to get any writing accomplished is to be engaged with your work. To carve out the time in your day, sit down, turn off all modes of distraction, and work.
Maybe that particular writer needs to be sitting in her workspace in order to write. But I don’t think that’s the only way for everyone. Especially for those of us who aren’t writing full-time or who are still waiting for that one big break.
Writers who have jobs, kids, housework, friends, responsibilities, LIFE–finding time to write is another job in itself. For many of us, writing isn’t something we can do whenever we want, nor for however long we want. Our writing time gets interrupted, pushed aside, buried.
If you’re finding your time to write is inconsistent, irregular, impossible, then my suggestion is to train your creative self to come out during mindless jobs.
“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.”
Even though I may not have pen in hand while I’m gardening, or washing dishes, or vacuuming, or even taking a shower, my mind is usually spinning all around the townspeople of Whalebrow Village and Deerloch (fictional towns in my completed novel, and WIP, respectively).
I believe that when you’re not forcing yourself to come up with ideas is the time your mind, your creative energy, your voice, unleashes. It might be just the right word. It might be the answer to how to get rid of the body your killer just strangled. It might even be why your protagonist chooses to drive to work instead of walking on the nicest day in April. It could even be just a story idea. Those precious few minutes of unharnessed thinking are as valuable as the set-aside blocks of time you’re more than fortunate to have. You’d be surprised at what you can uncover in just fifteen minutes.
I keep notebooks, sticky pads, pens all over my house, my purse, and in the car. When my creative self trots off to fictional worlds, I jot down a brief reminder of what I discover. I don’t write word-for-word; that’s too limiting for me. Rather, I scribble three-word phrases to help me remember what I imagined. Then, when I’m able to get back to my story on my laptop, I incorporate my new ideas into the story. I use fresh language spinning from the three-word phrases I had jotted down.
My opinion is that you need to be open to writing as often as possible, and this includes writing in your mind. This method might take some practice, especially if you’re someone who has always written in a contained space. If you get into the habit of letting your creative self do some exploring, you will certainly find some interesting, valuable tidbits along the way.
Writing is not just a physical act. Writing is also an act of imagination. You probably get more writing done than you realize.