Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 2014 Ramble: Making Time to Write

In this month’s Ramble we discuss making time for writing.  This is something I struggle with every day.  It makes no sense, really.  Why do I avoid and back-burner something I enjoy so much?  I've recently made a three-part plan to deal with my avoidance issues. If you find yourself avoiding your creative pursuits, perhaps this will help you as well. 

Identify and Deal with Distractions

For the longest time I didn’t actually realize I was letting myself be distracted.  Or worse, that I was the instigator of my distraction.  I decided to keep a little notebook with me for a couple of weeks to jot down what I did instead of writing.  Any time I thought “I should go write for awhile” or “Oh, I need to work on my ___ project” I started paying attention to what I actually did next.  Any negative, discouraging thoughts as well as what came to mind as alternate activities.  I wrote them all down.  These were my road blocks.  Sometimes they were previous commitments, sometimes they were just things to take up my time.

I noticed that the things on the list were things that I did quite often and I thought, “Well, no wonder I’m not getting my writing done!”  Being aware of them was my first step; next I needed a plan to counter them and keep myself on track.  I went down the list and figured out why each item was a distraction and whether I should take time for these things (other creative pursuits, social obligations, etc) or if they were purely distractions and not benefiting me in any way.     

Make a Schedule

Once I identified how my time was being spent when I wasn’t paying attention, I sketched out a schedule for two weeks.  (My work schedule is 6 nights on, 8 nights off now, so my time is spread out differently during the six than it is during the eight.) I have found that Google Calendar is very easy to use and has Day, Week, 2 Week and Month views depending on how detailed you want/need to be.

The only way I ever get anything done is if I put it on my schedule.  The more detailed I’ve made my schedule in the past (and followed it!) the more productive I’ve been.  So I made a master schedule for my 14 day work cycle and do you know what I found?  I HAVE TIME TO WRITE!  It was a thrilling and terrifying discovery to make.

Take Responsibility and Be Accountable

Huh, I have time to write, who would have thought?  Now that I had this enlightened perspective, I needed to take responsibility for it.  Take ownership of it; after all it is My writing career.  In order to get from “I really need to write at some point” to “Wow, I’m actually writing every day!” I had to start treating my writing like the second job it’s supposed to be.  My current employer won’t pay me if I don’t show up, and neither will all my ideas and characters amount to anything if I don’t show up for my writing.  BIC HOK (Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard).

Breaking up your writing into bite sized chunks and techniques to stay on track is a discussion for another post, but I will say in order to continue to write once you’ve found you have the time for it involves having goals, rewards and accountability.  Even if it is only to yourself, you need to set it up so that you are enough.  It is usually easier (for me at least) to be accountable to someone I trust outside of myself to keep me on track, however.

What should you take away from all this and the other articles by my fellow Ramblers?   If it’s important to you, you’ll find time to do it.  We all have the same 24 hours in a day and we are responsible for how those hours are spent.  Make a concentrated effort in discovering what works for you, develop a plan and stick to it.  We’re all in this together.  Seriously, we are.  I’d love to hear how you’ve made time for the things that are important to you.  Comment below!


Josh Morrey said...

Wow, keeping a notebook with you and writing down whatever distracts you from writing, that's a great idea. Of course, I'd probably get distracted from writing down my distractions and have to keep another notebook on what distracts me from writing down what distracts me from writing...

And I'm glad to hear you're finally getting some writing done. Looking forward to whatever this newfound writing time of yours concocts.

banana said...

I found this really inspiring! It actually makes me wanna write! I love the notebook idea and will be carrying one of the many I have (for some reason there's some random clock on most of them) with me at all times to jot down quick thoughts or more :-) I also am going to start scheduling things that are important to me that are getting missed because I seem to love sabotaging myself. No more!

papa steve said...
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papa steve said...

Great post, Heidi. The calendar is a really good idea. My calendar always seems to be full of appointments. So a number of years ago I started making appointments with myself. I used that time for reading usually. Then, if someone calls and says, "Can I see you Tuesday at 3:00?" I can say, "sorry, I already have an appointment then," even if it's with myself. And you know what? No one questions your almighty calendar!! It's like the thing is sacred! So use the Almighty Calendar, as you do.