Sunday, May 9, 2010

Finding Time to Write

During the month of April, “busy” was the operative term to describe my life. In fact, “busy” is not a strong enough word to define me.

In April, I:
  • edited 4 novel manuscripts and a collection of poetry
  • wrote several articles for various columns
  • read over 30 articles and sections of books for various academic projects
  • hit crunch time for end-of-semester, where I had to produce drafts of non-profit grant proposals, business proposals, pilot studies, etc.
  • racked up many hours of “bonding time” with my Usability team as we went through testing for a project that’s due soon
This list does not count for time in class, time on phone with various clients (current and potential), time conducting research for various projects (current and potential), and time on phone as sisterfriend.

Needless to say, there wasn’t a lot of time to sleep.

But there is one other thing I did in April that was probably the most rewarding: I started and completed Script Frenzy []. Created by the founder of NaNoWriMo, Script Frenzy gathers screenwriters from around the world during the month of April with the goal being to write 100 pages toward a screenplay.

All I wanted to do during the month was get some writing done. Even if it were only five pages, I would have been ecstatic, but I finished having written 110 pages.

How did I do that when it seems as if there was no time for it?

Three things helped me find the time to write.

  1. I TREATED WRITING AS A TASK. Many of us put writing down on our to-do list, but it becomes an expendable task, meaning if something more important comes along, then writing goes further down the list until it disappears. During the month of April (much like I treat NaNoWriMo’s November), writing became a task, just like putting gas in the car, finishing a project for class, or paying my rent. And because I treated it as such, I felt a responsibility to COMPLETE the task.
  2. I TREATED WRITING AS MY ESCAPE. I haven’t written much during my first year of doctoral work, and it has been very unsettling for me. Before April hit, I told myself that writing would be my refuge during this hectic academic month. Whenever I got stressed, whenever I needed to “get away” from academics, I opened up my script outline, opened up Final Draft and wrote bad pages to my screenplay. When I was done taking my mini “vacation,” I was ready to get back to the school work at hand.
  3. I TREATED WRITING AS MY ENTERTAINMENT. There are a lot of things I do to keep from doing work…to entertain myself. I get on Second Life and play with my alter ego. I watch TV. I play games on my phone. I play music and dance around until I’m too tired to do any work, LOL. I read. For the month of April, writing became my entertainment. Instead of turning on the TV, I wrote. When I felt the itch to play on Second Life, I wrote. When I had the urge to play music and dance, I played music, chair-danced, and wrote.
In the end, using these avenues to get writing on the page, I nearly completed a whole screenplay in April. And it kept me sane enough to stay on task with all the other things on my plate.

What do you do to keep yourself writing?

Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically, and her debut solo novel, Death at the Double Inkwell, will be released June 2010; you can read an excerpt here. Shon also interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her official website, and you can get information about her editorial services at CLG Entertainment. Currently, Shon is busy editing, promoting her debut project, writing screenplays, and pursuing her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University.
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  1. My readers keep me going. I post my stories serialised in forums and their comments often urge me to continue.

    Steamy Darcy

  2. Because I write for a living, my writing-for-pleasure time (fiction) always got shelved in favor of work-writing time. This January, I set aside 30 minutes a day to write fiction. It doesn't sound like much, but that schedule allowed me to finish my first novel in under three months and is keeping me on track with other fiction projects. If it matters to you, then it matters enough to get on your schedule. A little time is better than no time!

  3. Competing against myself is a favorite activity. So I made May my 1,000 Word a Day month. Some days I get them. Some days I'm way over. Some days the challenge gets me very few words. But the Challenge is always in my head so it pushes me on.
    Giggles and Guns

  4. Hay, that's impressive. Do you ever sleep, or get the time to have some fun? Well ... writing is fun of course >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  5. Another tip is to treat it as a priority. I worked with another writer who consistently treated everything else as a priority and writing was when he got around to it. Consequently, he was always doing something else instead, and the book is still not written.

  6. My writing routine was disrupted when we moved -- on the road, finding a temporary rental, finding a house, moving in ... and now, getting it into shape. Plus, I was between projects, so the motivation to write was low. But when I finally sat down (at the tiny computer stand we bought, since I don't have a desk yet) and wrote, everything went mellow.

  7. There must be something in the air! I blogged on a similar topic today as my To-Do list began to choke writing out of my life this week. Thanks for some great tips!

  8. These are good tips, but I find that when I treat my writing as entertainment, I let the story run in my head - because my brain is much faster than my typing.

    I may end up with some ideas, but I don't end up with much actual writing.

  9. Cool! I have always wondered how writers had time to have favorite TV shows. I am lucky to watch one or two movies a month. Writing is my "American Idol."


  10. I'm in the process of weeding out some of my other projects so I have time to write again. I write best in the afternoon, so I need to schedule it in like any other appointment.

  11. I write best first thing in the morning.
    I exercise most reliably first thing in the morning.
    More than anything else I love starting the day with a good inspirational read--either something on craft or a great novel.
    I love answering e-mail first thing in the morning.

    I once figured out that in order to do everything I want to do "first thing," I'd have to get up at 2 am and go to bed before most people were eating supper. Since that isn't doable for me, I've stuck with exercise-then-writing. With that anchor the rest of the day takes care of itself!

  12. Enid, which forum do you frequent most often? E-mail me at Would love to read!

    Nancy, it's amazing how much you can get done in 30 minutes when it's a "concentrated" 30 minutes and your sole aim is GET WORDS ON PAGE.

    Maribeth, some people think I'm crazy when I talk about competing with myself to get writing done. I do a lot of writing jags and "upping the ante" to get the writing done.

    Cold As Heaven, LOL, I actually do get time to have fun -- friends force me to do so! But the sleep? Still looking for it.

  13. Scott, I USED to have favorite TV shows. I still try to watch an episode every once in a while, but it gets hard with all the other obligations.

  14. Stop bragging about all you got done. (G)

    Seriously, you do have the right approach. I should adopt it.

    Morgan Mandel

  15. The face-to-face accountability of buddy writing helps me tremendously.

    I meet with another writer and we set a timer, say 20 minutes. Until the timer goes off, there's no talking. In between timed sessions, we can brainstorm or simply socialize, but we're both committed to producing.

  16. Morgan, I'm so tired now that I don't think of it as bragging but as relaying the story of a crazy woman, LOL

    Sally, I like the F2F approach. I've done something similar online, but I've never done it F2F. Will have to try it out.

  17. You're so right! I like to redefine what I'm doing every few years to keep a fresh perspective. I've been trying to look at my writing as a job with projects to be delivered, but I'm finding that motherhood is an entire job plus some as well. Creativity unfortunately gets pushed aside when time and energy are short.

    Writing as entertainment is a big one. I'm addicted to reading other authors' books, which is easy to justify. I think writing really just needs to become a habit.

    Blood-Red Pencil

  18. Wow, you are able to accomplish so much it amazes me. I just make myself write something every day. Most of the time it is work for the online magazine I write for. Need to find more time for fiction, though.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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