A friend with two kids recently showed me her silverware drawer. To save time, she decided to throw out the plastic insert. Now she just dumps the forks, spoons and knives in there willy-nilly. Her new system saves a few minutes every time she unloads the dishwasher, and it’s still easy enough to find the utensils she needs.
That got me thinking. What changes can I make to my daily routine to eke out a little more novel-writing time during the day?
Before becoming a mom, I set aside long blocks of time to work on my book. Having kids has forced me to work in 15- or 30-minute segments, usually during naps or first thing in the morning before anyone wakes up. Anything beyond that is a bonus!
It’s impossible to gauge exactly how much time I’ll have during a writing session. An expected 8 a.m. wakeup time might turn into 6:30 or 7 on any given day. So instead of waiting for a good long break, I plunge in and start. I don’t bother with optimal writing conditions any more, because they so rarely occur.
It’s freeing to train oneself to write in small, productive bursts. I prefer to work at 10 a.m., with caffeine and no noise, for two or more hours. But I don’t need that kind of setup. I can get something done between shoveling bites of cereal in my mouth and that first “Mom!” or “Waaah!” call. Although caffeine always helps.
I fit knitting into my life one row at a time. It often takes weeks to complete a small project. That’s sort of how I’m feeling about my novel right now. I’m aiming to do a little novel work every day. A few new sentences, some edits, or even reading James Wood’s HOW FICTION WORKS all count. It feels great to be writing consistently again, even though it’s slow and the luxurious 2-hour blocks are scarce. I could certainly use more time, but I’ll take what I can get and do my best to use it wisely.
Back to my friend and her silverware drawer, we all make time to write. What are some of your life shortcuts? Have you given up any activities to devote more time to writing? If you’re a parent, how do you squeeze in your writing time?