In a post last week, I wrote how I wanted to take better advantage of time by breaking one habit – believing limited time meant I had no time to write. But what ways can a writer re-gain control of their daily opportunities to write? Here are a few strategies I’m trying. Again, the idea isn’t to frantically write in every spare moment but to find ways to be a bit more productive instead.
- I’ve stopped believing I don’t have time. This habit formed over time when I was tired, rushed or distracted. It was a slippery slope of one day that coalesced into many. I now look for spare moments and decide whether I actually have time to write – really write, not just post on social media where I end up wasting more time.
Make notes – I’m using features in Scrivener to make notes about my thoughts when I stop writing. This way I have a reference on which to re-gain my creative mindset when I have those small bits of time to write. Too often, I don’t use the time because I don’t know where to start – or how. Shifting gears between tasks in a busy day means creativity gets buried. Having a reference point gets me started.
3. Try a short, creative exercise – getting back to creativity means shutting down your practical mental state. You can do this rather quickly by writing a few brainstorming words about your topic or story. Doodling in curves, especially in color, can help too. But again, being time conscious means that you don’t take too long at this. I suspect that the more you practice changing mental gears the better you become. Likewise, I think that stopping these exercises means you lose the ability to be mentally nimble.
- Building on the notes – try journaling earlier in the day where you focus your effort on your story and other projects. As you journal imagine aspects of what you can write during the day and note these. Are there fictional conversations that you can distill from your thoughts as well as other details. If you have other projects, what ideas do you want to address. This brings all those vague notions from your mind so that you have something definite about which you can write when ready. The main idea is to journal with the purpose of bringing ideas to the forefront and then having them ready to use at a moment’s notice.
5. Don’t waste valuable minutes when time is short and you can’t get busy on a particular project. If you have other projects to work on like writing a blog post be ready to shift to that and accomplish something. Just making progress writing is positive enough to keep you going later. Also, I’ve found that being creative one way actually stimulates my writing in other ways. If you want to use small blocks of time then use them any way you can just have a fall-back plan if your stuck.
What strategies do you have for writing in limited time? Do you find that you often think you don’t have time to write but spend the time on something unproductive? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.
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P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.