Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lesson Learned: Making Time

Often, the lessons we learn are painfully obvious.  For example, if you don't make time for something, it won't happen.  Duh!

When it comes to competitive writing, in order to seen, it is imperative that you set aside time to :
  1. Brainstorm
  2. Write
  3. Edit
  4. Rewrite
How much time do those things require?  Well, it depends.  But the real answer is more than you think.  The best approach is to carve out a chunk of time in your daily schedule (more on that later) and use it for one or more of those activities.  There may be days where it takes a whole hour just to write a sentence, but you'll know it's perfect and won't need to edit.  Other days, the words may flow like a tsunami, but they'll also carry a bunch of junk with them, so the cleanup will take time.

Ok, back to the issue at hand - how do you make time to do this in the first place?  Given that most of us have lesser IQs than Einstein, and aren't quite powerful enough to bend the space-time continuum, here are some practical ideas:

  1. Experiment - Try writing at the breakfast table, after dinner, in bed.   Use a notepad and pen instead of the computer.  Use a crayon and post-its. By learning to use the materials at hand at any moment you can recapture precious lost seconds or minutes.
  2. Schedule - For those of us who aren't organizers, this can be a dirty word. But hey, if we use schedules to get us to the doctor or the dentist, then perhaps we can use one for writing.  (And as spillover from point one, perhaps waiting rooms make great writing spots!)
  3. Prioritize - Family, your day job, and self-care are all important things that need attention before you shirk away to the writing ether. Meet all your daily tasks and then get to writing.
  4. Procrastinate with a purpose - "I'll do it later" is acceptable, so long as you make arrangements and hold yourself to it.
  5. Sacrifice Sleep - Not a lot, but a little.  Sleep is very important, but maybe you can shed 30 minutes here or there by getting up earlier or staying up later.  And what the heck, every now and then pull an all nighter and see what sort of writing you can pull together.
I'm sure there are tons of other ways to scrape together some daylight, so feel free to share your favorites.

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