I call myself a modish gladiator. A warrior in the 21st century who can go from slippers and uncombed hair to heels and mascara in under five minutes. Someone who juggles family, freelance jobs, environment activism, pets, and writing from pre-dawn to good-night kisses. I came to this station in life mostly out of necessity, and not because I enjoy feeling like a cross between a Jedi and a minivan.
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At the root of my harried life is my need to write stories. I have never found being a writer an easy thing. I was not born with the gift of storytelling, but rather the passion. I don’t think I could survive without writing, so I fight to keep it in my life.
I should be wearing mail, wielding a sword, to attack each of my days, just to get things done. Instead, my weapon is time management. Not sure how much that would have helped those poor men in the lion pits, but for a working mom under attack? Yep, time management, baby!
To be at your most productive, you really need to have a time of day that is all yours.
You can probably tell by the title of my blog that 4 am is my witching hour. I know it’s a dreadful thought for most people, but for someone like me who is slammed 12 hours straight taking care of other people, this was my best choice.
But what about schedules that are in flux, even at 4 am? This has happened to me, on a number of occasions, when that witching hour is suddenly hijacked by a sick child, a poor night’s sleep, power loss from a storm.
Start with 15 minutes. That’s all. Everyone has 15 minutes each day to devote to their passion. It might feel awkward or troublesome, and you might not get that much accomplished at first, but it’s a matter of training.
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You need to train your creative self to unwind during mindless jobs, the down times of your day. Trust me, they are there. You just have to learn how to recognize them.
“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, washing dishes, vacuuming, or even taking a shower, my mind is usually spinning all around the characters in my alter worlds. This is a form of time management — making the most of the time when you’re not obligated to help with homework, talk to a teacher, deal with customers, pay bills, argue with your mother, answer the phone.
The biggest opposition I hear to this idea is that you aren’t physically writing, so how can it be considered writing?
My response? How did you come up with your story idea in the first place?
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 of imagining.
If you’re worried that you won’t remember what you write in your head, then keep some writing tools in strategic places. Keep a magnetic notepad on your fridge, sticky pads in your purse or car, a pen behind your ear, download a note-taking app on your phone. Take one minute to jot down a reminder of your thoughts, just enough so that when you’re ready to actively write, you can incorporate your ideas into your project.
Writers need to be open to writing as often as possible, and this includes writing in our minds. 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.