I am not doing NaNoWriMo officially, but with a book to finish, another one to start, columns piling up, hundreds of emails to answer and a for-God’s-sake-do-soon paper pile that is threatening to take over the entire room, I have my own reasons for needing to buckle down this month. If you live on your own, and don’t go out to work, what’s to stop you? But if you have a family and busy life to juggle, here are my top tips, hoiked out of Wannabe a Writer? for getting lots written in a short space of time…. Good luck! 🙂
How to Write When There’s no Time:
- Think about getting up an hour earlier and write while the rest of the house is asleep. When I’m getting to the end of a book (which always takes longer than planned) I sometimes rise at four a.m. to guarantee three hours of non- interruption and have stayed up all night on occasion. I do not, however, recommend you consider any of these options if you have very small children because you must be totally exhausted already. As the mother of the “boy-who-never-slept,” I sympathise.
- Think about going to bed later and write while everyone else is asleep. N.B. If you like a drink in the evenings you might find you don’t understand any of it in the morning but at least your word count will be up.
- Be alert for all chances to write. Get yourself a nice notebook and carry it around with you, jotting down thoughts and snatches of dialogue, sentences that spring to mind or how you are feeling at a particular time, whenever you get the chance. In the dentist’s waiting- room, for example, outside the school gates or when you have to stand around in a queue. Remind yourself that there’s nothing like being prevented from writing to make you really productive when you finally get the chance.
- Join a local writing group so someone else is forced to look after the kids and you have a guaranteed evening a week to focus on your desire to write. Meet others who share your difficulties and can give you support.
- Pretend you’ve joined a writing group and go and write in the pub.
- Swap childcare with a friend. If he or she writes too, so much the better but strike a pact in any case. Have her kids round to play while she does her embroidery or car maintenance, in return for her having yours while you bash out a short story.
- Forget all that talk about the perils of too much TV and embrace the dvd player as the greatest of childcare inventions. Tell the children you’re all going to watch a favourite film and once they’re absorbed, you can scribble things on your lap and make the right noises at the exciting bits.
- Write during Sports Days and school plays. The moment your own offspring leave track or stage, whip out your pen. Put it round the playground that you are a freelance journalist and nobody will think you rude. On the contrary, they will be delighted, assuming you are taking copious notes on the feats of their little darlings.
- When your spouse asks what you’d like for your birthday, request a day to yourself. Earmark a weekend where he or she takes the kids out and leaves you in blissful solitude at your desk. (N.B. This is unlikely to go down well on your wedding anniversary.)
- Establish the ground-rule that writing is just as important as Golf or Going Shopping for Shoes. Drum this into the kids, too. Remember that being bored is character-forming. Let them get a feel for it.
Finally comfort yourself with the thought that if you write ALL the time you won’t have anything to write about. It is part of the process that you need to reflect and recharge, wander and ponder, see people, live life a little – otherwise you’ll have nothing to say.
Talking to the postman is a crucial part of a writer’s day’s work. And all airing cupboards need a tidy sometimes.