Unless you’re JK Rowling, chances are slim that you’re never going to have entire days to just write. They’ll come every once and while, but if you’re an unpublished author still in school or working a day-job then those days are rare. We have to scramble for as much time as we can before the real world rips us away from our fictional universes and that makes things stressful.
Now I am somewhat of an expert on writing whenever I can. Balancing school, three jobs, YouTube, and other responsibilities have sort of granted me that superpower. It’s certainly not an ideal situation, but hey you gotta do what you gotta do.
My first tip is to convert leisure time into writing time. I’m still astonished that some writers actually have separate writing and relaxing times. Personally, I’ve never had that luxury. I started writing novels in the middle of my fastpitch softball career and combined with ambitious academic self…well leisure time was limited. I may have sacrificed TV, endless hours of Skyrim, and Game Grump playthroughs for this valuable writing time, but hey that’s what writer’s blocks are for.
Another seemingly obvious tip is night time. When the rest of the world sleeps, you write on! It’s so much easier to focus on your writing when the rest of the world isn’t distracting you with grocery store trips or work or Netflix marathons. Some crazy people have the same mindset, but for the morning. I mean if that’s your beat, go for it. Me? I prefer to stay up until 4 in the morning and then survive off of too much coffee the next day so I can repeat the cycle that next night. Whatever ensures that I avoid that evil 6 am – 9:30 am block of time.
This is the part where things get tricky because you might come across times in your life where leisure time is limited and you’re simply too exhausted to write in the night/early morning if you’re crazy.
One of my favorite methods during these crazy times is to write during class. Obviously this is a method used mostly by students and it’s very risky. Although I was once able to write a page and a half on my laptop, I’m more likely to write in a notebook. That’s mostly because I can get away with more in a notebook because the teachers think I’m taking notes and ignore me. If I have my laptop out, they’ll think I’m on Facebook or Twitter so they’ll pay more attention to me and I can’t write as much. I told you I was an expert on this sort of thing.
Then there’s also the very popular, less risky touch-n-go. That’s the method you want if you’re literally trying to schedule time to eat and breathe. Basically, you write whenever you can and when I say whenever I mean whenever. On napkins while you wait for your coffee, on your phone while you wait for a meeting you showed up early to, on the toilet paper while you…you get the picture. During high school, I wrote entire chapters on scraps of old homework. It makes it easier for when you actually return to normal writing time because you have everything written out and you can even edit it as you transcribe it into your manuscript.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break. Sometimes the universe just doesn’t want you to write and it’s during those times that you swallow your pride and give up for the moment. It’s important to rest and maintain a healthy stress level. Seriously, your book will still be there once you get past the busy time. No need to let frantic napkin notes and long text messages determine the fate of your book.
Just do what’s best for you. If you’re like me and writing is your leisure time, then write when you’re stressed. If you’re absolutely freaking out about your schedule mashing with your writing time, don’t worry about the book. Do what you need to do to get your stress level down and then return to your book. It’ll always be there. You will always have the time for it in the future.
But seriously if you ever write on toilet paper, oh my god please send me a picture on my Twitter. And then next time, just watch some YouTube videos or something the next time you’re in that kind of situation. I mean I know a good YouTube channel that might peak your interests….