Corine La Font, Contributor
You know the routine. Get up, get the kids to school, go to work, return home, prepare dinner, do homework, sleep and wake up the next day to follow the same routine all over again. So when in all this am I supposed to write? A question many of us ask ourselves when we are already overwhelmed with life and the responsibilities it brings, but believe me, there is a solution.
A solution, like everything else, that requires discipline, commitment, and consistency but it can be done.
For those of you who are parents and even when we think back to our young school days, we know the trick when we were asked to just do five or maybe 10 questions and somehow at the end of doing those five or 10 questions, you are still yearning for more and you say to the teacher or parent, "Can I do one more?" and it turns out that you ended up doing 10 more and you didn't even realise it.
Remember that? Well that's the same strategy you need to use when it comes to writing or even anything that you want to accomplish. Do less so you yearn more. Here are a few tricks you can use to accomplish your writing with even the most hectic schedule.
Choose one or more approaches and see which works best for you:
1. Some people know if they work best at day or night. For me, I am writing this article late at night when the kids go to bed and all I hear are the crickets in the background.
No TV, radio, or any other form of distraction is there to detract or influence my thoughts or creative juices. Determine if you work best at day or night and set a time aside to write.
2. Be realistic with how much you will accomplish when you set aside that time. Don't say I am going to write 10,000 words or I will complete one chapter. That's being unreal and setting up yourself for failure, disappointment and regression with your writing.
I suggest small bites like a 350- to 400-word blog post which represents about 3-4 paragraphs. Let's do a quick math. If you write 400 words a day x 365 days a year, that equals to 146,000 words at the end of a year. At an average of 250 words per page, that translates to 584 pages. That can be two books if you're not careful! Now that sounds ridiculously doable right? Sure it is and when you start writing 400 words a day, you will find yourself like a schoolchild again doing more than you realised because your competitive spirit says, "Come on, you can do more."
And if the creative juices are flowing, run with it until you know in yourself you are satisfied with the end product. Then put it down and don't look back till the next day or the scheduled time to write.
3. Speaking of the scheduled time to write. Yes, just like your everyday routine, it is best to schedule time to write. Now it is easier said than done, but if you can schedule an appointment to see the doctor, then you can schedule time to write. Make it a priority like your health and slot in that time and stick to it. Is it once per week or everyday at a designated time? Whatever it is, be realistic and stick to it as best as possible making provision for life's unexpected distractions.
WINDOW FOR DISTRACTIONS
Give yourself a window in between to accommodate those distractions and make sure to tell your friends and family your writing schedule so they can respect your time and commitment. If you need to go into another room with a 'do not disturb' sign or drive out to your favourite place that would inspire you to write, then do that at your scheduled time.
4. Don't put yourself in a corner. Let's say you start writing that chapter and find yourself being stuck or the words not flowing seamlessly. Stop! What that is saying is that you are not to write that now. Recognise the signs and stop ignoring it. Most people would call this writer's block but it is really a sign to do something else, maybe another chapter, character development or maybe some drawings of what your character looks like or the conceptual artwork for your cover design.
Just focus on something else or do nothing. Just relax, drink your favourite beverage, get some sleep and wake up motivated and inspired the next day. If it recurs, read a good book or watch a movie and ideas will come to you to get back on track again.
5. At the beginning of this article, I spoke to the daily challenges of having a family and being a writer. Turn it around to be a positive on your writing journey. As you write your bite-sized pieces or chapters towards a full manuscript, read it to your family - children included, no matter how young or old they are. Reading your work out loud makes you hear yourself and allows you to pick up loopholes or areas that need clarity. Feedback from your family also brings an added perspective to the story that you may not have even thought about, and just including them on your journey makes the entire process more manageable and home friendly. Isn't that the dream environment every writer wants?
While I am sure this list is not exhaustive, you can apply some or even all of the strategies to help you balance your other commitments and writing. You can accomplish it all. Others have done it and you can too. Just make a realistic plan and like Nike says 'just do it'
Corine La Font is an author, certified author assistant and online book marketing specialist. She is also an award-winning publishing resource in the 2013 Small Business Book Awards. Get a copy of her book at http://amzn.to/TFHQka Tune in to her radio programme at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/helpdeskja.