Many aspiring writers will tell you that what is currently holding them back from furthering their careers is a lack of time. Many of us have busy schedules because life must go on.
We currently hold down full time jobs either in the work place or at home as a home maker. Given our circumstances how can we find the time to move are writing careers forward?
I would like to share a few tips on how to write a little more that you are currently doing regardless of working a busy schedule.
In part 1 of this article we will address the needs of those of us who are holding down full time jobs in the work place. Part 2 will do the same for those who have a busy schedule in their home life but do not necessarily commute to a place of work.
1. Do your writing before getting to work
This may seem like an obvious statement but the trick as in many other activities lies more in the “how you do it” rather than in the “what you do”.
If you drive to work:
The number one key point here is to leave for work sufficiently early to give yourself enough time between leaving home and actually arriving at your place of work to get some writing done.
So you leave home early to avoid being bogged down by ongoing tasks at home but you’re not at work yet hence the spare time which now becomes available.
If working verbally suits you then start by capturing some basic ideas by using a voice recorder as you drive along of which there are many to select from depending on your taste and pocket. Obviously this will have to be done hands free to avoid accidents.
A better way would be to stop at your favorite coffee bar either at a service station (if you do motorway driving) or head straight there on foot after parking your car if it is local to your work place. (This is my preferred approach).
Yet another way is to actually arrive at work early and use a vacant office or room which is not in the immediate vicinity of your own desk or office. You can hide away here for an hour and get those creative juices flowing.
If you commute by train
Again leaving early is the key to your achieving some degree of success with this approach. Leaving home early not only gives you more time but will generally result in the train being less packed with fellow commuters thus giving you additional psychic space to work in a relaxed manner.
It’s pretty obvious what to do when you’re seated in a half empty train with at least a half hours commute ahead of you. Get writing!
What if your train commute is too short or you can’t leave early enough due to other commitments like dropping a kid off at school etc? Not to worry there are other tips available as a workaround.
If you are able to leave early but your train commute is too short then again you can resort to using a coffee bar or an empty office or meeting room well before it’s time to start work. (See section titled “If you drive to work”).
Some of us feel uncomfortable writing on the train because Joe Blogs might be looking over our shoulder wondering what we’re up to. Well if that’s your disposition then get in early enough to use an empty meeting room or office. Don’t use your own office otherwise you might be tempted to answer phone calls or start reading emails.
2. Do your writing before getting home
Here you can use the same techniques as you do to get some writing done before getting to work. Because you don’t need to rise early this approach is more suitable if you are more of a night owl.
Straight after leaving work be prepared either to do some work on the train or to stop at a comfortable rest point where you can get some writing done. Actually depending on the weather it doesn’t have to be a coffee bar.
A friend of mine remains on the train platform bench and does all his writing while ignoring the trains going by. He does not allow himself to be trapped into the automatic routine of jumping on the first available train just because he is at the train station.
3. Have a clear plan of action
In his excellent writing course Write Any Book in Under 28 days prolific writer Nick Daws presents a simple technique whereby you first create your blueprint for your proposed book.
This outline has been constructed in such a way that you can then go on to write the book piecemeal in 5 minute bursts for example. The idea is quite basic and you don’t necessarily need to get his course to implement this.
Block out a sizable chunk of time (at least half a day or a full evening) to formulate your book blueprint by listing a series of questions which need to be answered around each chosen topic. Usually you will have one topic per chapter. Hence create a list of questions for chapter one for example.
Once a chapter has been outlined you can now write it in bits as the opportunity arises.
For an article you would only need one set of questions as against a book where you would need one set per chapter.
4. Keep your writing tools handy
Ideas can spring to mind at any time and when they do you need to catch them quickly before they vanish into nothingness.
This is why keeping a pocket notebook handy in strategic places (for example a spare one at work in case you forget your regular one at home) is generally good practice.
If you can afford it you can also acquire a net-book which is a cut down version of a computer laptop. They are ideal for surfing the net or writing using a software package like word for windows. Look this up by typing “net book” into Google.
Or just use your regular lap top if you are fortunate enough to own one. I tend to mix and match between my pocket notebook and my laptop depending on what is available at the time.
5. Have a portable keep-fit strategy
This tip may seem oddly out of place in a writer’s arsenal. But many writers tend to be quite cerebral so unless we have an alternative job which makes us use our bodies in anger we might be hard put to keep fit.
What does exercising have to do with writing a little more? Well you might find that the gap between thinking about something and actually doing it is much narrower when you’re feeling energized. The inertia is much reduced.
By portable I mean a system of exercises which don’t require any equipment (apart from your body that is). Also you want a system which is effective even when done for just a few minutes at a time. There are quite a few of these around so shop around till you find something which works for you.
In part 2 of this series we will explore how to rise above the daily grind of tasks which need doing around the home for those who are home makers or who are stuck at home during the day for one reason or another.