Just finished reading a great article in the October 2011 Romance Writers Report that talked about finding time to write (because we can all find time to put it off, right?!). One of the things I realized after a hectic start to the school year, and then taking a few days off to visit Iceland, was that even a week or two away from my WIP makes it that much harder to get back into the swing of things. I forget where the plotline is, I forget the subtleties of my character development, I have to spend time reading backwards instead of time moving forward.
So....write! Every day! Yes, every day, even if it's only for a few minutes. Some tips from the RWR article, which I whole-heartedly agree with:
~Find "hidden pockets" of time. You don't need a stretch of a few hours to accomplish something on your WIP. Believe me, you don't. Even if it's only 10 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever, there are still pockets of time in your day you can take advantage of. Figure out your best "natural" time to write (are you a morning person? or do you function better late at night?) and then carve out time when you don't have to be devoted to 5 other things then, and use that time to write.
~Focus/minimize other distractions. This means (as I tell my students in English class) don't have your Internet browser open, turn off your email notifications, turn your phone to silent. You'll be amazed at how those simple things can give you more time and attention to your WRITING.
~Just write. This is the age-old "Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard" mantra. Don't worry whether it's any good. Don't edit and re-edit as you go along. Just write. When you go back the next day, you'll find that it isn't nearly as "awful" as you might have originally imagined. Better yet, you'll have something to work with - and something is always better than a blank page of nothing.
~Turn waiting time into writing time. If you know you'll be sitting in a waiting room, or standing in line somewhere for a while, see if you can use that precious time to your advantage. Even if you can't type, can you use pen and paper to jot down thoughts for a next scene? Or a new project? Creative juices can flow anywhere, if you let them :)
~Schedule time drains. Are you a Facebook or Twitter junkie? Find it impossible to stay away from the latest season of "Dancing with the Stars"? Figure out which of those activities you must have in your life, and then schedule around them. Again, as I tell my students in English class, you don't need to spend 30 minutes at a time updating your Facebook status or commenting on your friends' 67 pictures from their trip to Disney. Give yourself 10 minutes and move on. Do you really, really, need to get sucked into watching a brand new sitcom (I know, there are a few tempting ones on TV this fall)? Or would that half-hour at the end of the day be better served to writing a page or two?
~Keep track of, and celebrate, your successes. It's hard work to write a novel! (or a novella or even a short story) Lots of people talk about doing it - far fewer succeed. So definitely give yourself credit for the milestones you reach. Your first draft of a 20K-word story?Awesome! The mid-way point of your first full-length novel? Awesome again. Finally getting through that first kiss scene and liking the way it turns out? Hooray!
Yes, writing is tough work. But you can do it - and I hope some of these tips inspired you the way they inspired me. Now I'm off to write~