Our guest post today is by Mystery Times contributor, Addie J. King, who answers the question:
Where Do I Find the Time to Write?
It always amazes me when people ask this question; because I’m absurdly busy, and I still write.
I’m a full time lawyer for a government agency. I write sentencing reports for a judge on the side. I write books and short stories (and have book contracts and deadlines). I do some (limited) private practice. I’m a wife. I’m a stepmom.
But I make time to write. How do I do that?
1.) I have an incredibly awesome, supportive husband.
I met my husband two weeks after signing the publishing contract for my first novel. He’s always known me as an author. I guess he didn’t really have much choice in that (grin).
He’s helped me set up for book events and conferences. He’s cooked dinner and run the dishwasher while I stare at the computer screen. Of course, I try to do my fair share when I’m not facing a deadline of some kind. He has helped out with all kinds of things, not just around the house, but lets me bounce ideas off him, listens as I read passages to him, and he lets me roll when I get the little glint in my eye that signals that I’ve gotten an IDEA, and I’m suddenly distracted from whatever it was we were talking about. He’s used to it by now.
2.) I’m someone who multitasks all the time, but I make time to squeeze in the writing because it’s important to me.
I listen to audiobooks and writing podcasts in the car or while I’m working in the garden or the flowerbeds or crocheting. I take a notebook with me everywhere to make notes of ideas, even at soccer games. I'm one of those people who has to have noise or distraction going on around me to completely concentrate; if I’ve got dead silence, I don’t know what to do with it.
Of course, this might not work for you. You have to figure out whether you can do this, or not. It’s okay, you’ve got to find your own groove.
I’ve written a grand total of six novels, three of which are published. I’ve got three short stories published, as well as essays and blog posts, and other projects in various stages of completion. I know what I need to do to get those things written, because I’ve figured out what works for me. You have to figure out what works for you. Get up early, stay up late, use your lunch hour, use the twenty minutes you have before the kids get off the bus. If that doesn’t work, try something different.
3.) If you’re just starting out; write every day, set goals, and reward yourself for meeting them.
I did start out writing every single day. I started with NaNoWriMo. (www.nanowrimo.org). It gave me a structure and a schedule. I went to write-ins, met people with whom I formed a writing group, and used the writer’s group meetings as a way to keep setting goals. Having a writing group with a schedule meant that I could set myself a goal of 5,000 words a week. Those little goals earned something small, like a cookie or a glass of wine. If I hit a goal of 30,000 in a month, then I’d reward myself with an evening at another author’s book signing/reading. An awesome reward because other than the cost of a book, it’s free, and you get to hear an author talk, and, hey, a new book).
These days, I reward myself with dinner out with my husband when I finish a book.
If writing’s important, no matter what you have going on in your life, you have to make room for it. If you don’t make room for it, it’s not important. Start by giving yourself permission to work on it for twenty minutes after dinner, with a notebook and a piece of paper. No Facebook, no Twitter, no TV, no movies, maybe some music in the background, and that’s it. See if you still love it after wrestling with a blank page for that long. You don’t have to actually be drafting prose; you could be outlining, or brainstorming ideas. You could be working on a character. Then do it again tomorrow, and add to what you did the day before. Give it a week, and see what you think, and then make changes to find out what works for you.
Addie J. King is an attorney by day and author by nights, evenings, weekends, and whenever else she can find a spare moment. Her short story “Poltergeist on Aisle Fourteen” was published in Mystery Times Ten 2011 by Buddhapuss Ink, and an essay entitled, “Building Believable Legal Systems in Science Fiction and Fantasy” was published in Eighth Day Genesis; A Worldbuilding Codex for Writers and Creatives by Alliteration Ink. Her novels, The Grimm Legacy, The Andersen Ancestry, and The Wonderland Woes are available now from Musa Publishing. Her website is http://www.addiejking.com