Life has a habit of getting in the way. All you want to do is write and something happens. Work calls you in or assigns you more. Someone asks you to watch their kids. The only time you have to do that errand is during your writing time. Something has to give and unfortunately more often than not it’s your writing time. We’ve let it go this far, why not another day? Then a month. Then a year. Then you realize you’re still not the writer you want to be and your career is not where you want it to be.
We can set boundaries, delegate, learn the word “No”, and defend our writing time to the death. Sometimes you just can’t. And that’s okay. Here are 3 ways you can write when life gets in the way. Remember: You’re a writer. You write because you love it. You write for your sanity. Think of how good you’ll feel afterwards.
Get up early or stay up late. Know when you work better or what’s logistically better for you. It also may depend on your schedule this week. If you know one day you have to be somewhere at 8 am, it’ll take 2 hours to get there plus getting ready, and you’re not a morning person to begin with, getting up earlier may not work for this day. Some days you might get up early, some stay up late. On one hand, I like writing first thing so I know I’ve done it and don’t have to worry about it. I’m a night owl. I can write at night and get a lot done in a short amount of time. I find it relaxing and a great way to close the day: reflecting on what I just did, proud I got it done, and thinking about a brighter future.
Set a timer for 15 minutes. I used to think this was too simple to work, but there’s something about pushing “start” on the clock that makes me drop down and focus. The time goes quickly, but I also accomplish a lot. You can do a lot more than you think you can in a short amount of time. I often go over the 15 minutes, but setting a timer is a great way to focus and make sure you write.
Just do it. Anything. Many writers I know believe they need ideal conditions in order to write. Hours of time. Their favorite beverage. Several minutes of meditation before setting forth. That’s great, but it doesn’t mean you’re any less of a writer or less committed if you don’t show up every day at 2:30 pm for three hours. What’s important is that you write. They might just be notes right now or so to the point it kind of makes you sick. Your prose might look like a radio show script. Rewrite it later.
And on anything (because you know when you carry that small notebook, nothing happens. But when you don’t have it, you have great ideas.) I’ve written on the backs of deposit slips, cocktail napkins, and ticket stubs. How awesome a story will that be that you started your novel on a ticket stub? Think of what a great thing to auction off for charity when you’re a house hold name?
One of the reasons we don’t write when life happens is we get caught up in our drama. We let those inner mean voices win. “If you were really a writer, you would have written.” We’re so busy telling ourselves we have no time to write that we don’t allow ourselves to write. Tell the voices to stuff it. You’re creative and you’ll make it happen.
We write the way dancers move to any type of music or a mathematician looks at a set of numbers and sees patterns. We just do it. We feel better afterwards. What we label as “terrible” may flower into something beautiful later.