I think that what stops me from writing is that I don't know how to manage my time. I'm always busy with my studies and writing is like a hobby. And I love thinking of new ideas, but I never get to really write them because of the time and then I get hit by another idea, so I don't finish the one I was developing.
Jumping between ideas is a whole other issue entirely, which I’ll post about later on, but let’s focus on making time to write when you’re busy.
Fit Writing Into Your Schedule
When it comes to time management, I cannot help but bring up Chris Baty and No Plot? No Problem. In it, he outlines how to fit NaNoWriMo into your schedule, and I think it’s a method that you can apply throughout the rest of the year as well.
Step One: Grab a small notebook and start recording every single thing you do throughout the day.
8:00: Woke up
8:30: Had breakfast
9:00: Went to work/class
1:00: Had lunch
I won’t do the entire day here, but you get the idea. Include things like check email, browse Tumblr, YouTube. Anything that takes up more than 5 minutes of your time should go on this list (going to the bathroom - no; take a shower - yes).
Step Two: Once you’ve kept this schedule going for a week, get out three highlighters and assign a color to each of the following:
Go through your schedule and highlight each item on your list with one of your colors. Necessities would be things like eating, sleeping, showering - think personal health and hygiene. Priority would be work, school/studying, volunteering, school activities, chauffeuring your kids or attending their events - think things that you don’t have to do to survive, but that you need to make you happy. Dispensable is all the extra stuff - the internet surfing, TV watching, other hobbies.
These have gray areas, depending on how you live your life. Some people might consider cleaning a necessity; others may think of it as a priority, or even dispensable. You make these judgments based on how you feel.
Step Three: Begin replacing some of those dispensable blocks with writing. If you have very few dispensable things in your schedule, you’ll have to cut into your priorities. If you’re still having trouble, consider cutting down the time you spend on priorities/necessities rather than replacing them altogther. Cut 5 minutes from your shower + 15 from breakfast (prepare something simpler) and you’ve given yourself a 20 minute block to do some quick writing. Also look at combining activities. Are you able to write during your lunch break? Or on the bus/train? These are last resorts, but options nonetheless.
The bottom line is: If you want to have time for writing, something has to go.
If you can’t replace anything in your life with writing, then you’ve decided writing isn’t a priority. That’s okay. Writing may not be a priority for you right now, but that doesn’t mean it can’t become one later. Your life may become simpler, you may drop hobbies, your kids will get more independent…your life will evolve and maybe eventually you will have time to fit it in. But don’t decide that until you’ve gone through this process and really evaluated how you spend your time.
Thank you to Chris Baty for introducing me to this process.