I keep a board on Pinterest with ideas for how I'll arrange my writing nook if ever I actually get one. Right now I live with my parents, and I may be here for the foreseeable future, so a dedicated writing space may be several years down the road. But I can dream. When I lived on my own, I had a room that, when I went in there, it was time to write. That's what happened in there. In the current situation, there is no such place. Every room in the house is dedicated to something else and, since I am guest in their home (I honestly don't think they see it that way, but it's true nonetheless), I can't just say that the spare room is now my writer's lair. As a result, I found myself not dedicating the time to writing that I once did. I needed to find a solution to that problem, especially if I want to meet my long-term goal of publishing three books a year. So I came up with a plan. It has five parts. Maybe you're in a similar situation and need some ideas on how to get back to being productive. Here they are, in no particular order:
- Find a designated writing place outside the house. For me, that's Panera Bread. I go there nearly every Saturday and write and/or edit. I put in my headphones, drink more coffee than is probably healthy, and write for hours. I can actually feel myself going into writer mode when I enter the door. Maybe a crowded restaurant won't work for you. Do you have a library nearby? Or maybe even a park? You can probably find a spot more easily than you think once you start looking.
- Dedicate a specific time every day to writing. I am a morning person, but I generally putter the first hour or two away doing email and other social media things, much of which is directly connected to writing in that it's about promoting my books, but it's para-writing, not writing itself, which has to take a front seat. So I've set a goal of at least a half-hour of writing every morning regardless of when else I can work it in. Maybe for you, morning isn't the time. But I bet you can find one.
- Re-define what you consider "enough time to write." Much like I am with reading, I prefer to have a good solid block of time to write. At least a half an hour, more if possible. But life is almost always about what you can do and not about what you prefer. So commit to using those snippets of time that you usually use scrolling through Twitter or Facebook to either reading or writing. Take 10 minutes a half-dozen times in a day and you have an hour of writing in.
- Be a little more selfish. Before I started writing seriously, I pretty much lived for my students. I made myself their designated fan. I went to every game, every performance, every competition. I felt guilty if I missed something. But I've decided that I can support my students without being at every single event. In some ways, being there for a game or two rather than every single one makes it more special to them anyway. So I still go to my kids' activities, but I learn to be okay with it being one or two per season. Is there an area in which you can find a little more balance? Not necessarily give something up but maybe just cut back your commitment to a more reasonable level and use that time to get another chapter written each week.
- Turn off the idiot box. I grew up in a family of TV watchers. Read my books and you'll find the characters' names are mostly tributes to the shows I grew up watching. But the TV is the major time suck in my life. And it often happens without my even noticing it. I turn on the TV in my room while I'm changing out of my work clothes and it stays on until bedtime. Another evening that could've been productive poured down the black hole that is almost all of television. All it takes is simple step--I don't turn it on unless I have a specific show I want to watch. Maybe for you, it's not the TV. Maybe it's the Internet. There's a fix for that too, especially if you type on a laptop. Turn off the wi-fi. Put your phone on airplane mode. There was a time when we weren't accessible 24/7 and the sun came up every morning.
I hope you find those helpful, whether you're looking for time to write or do something else you just can't seem to find the time for. Do you have any other tricks you use to keep yourself productive? If so, feel free to share.