1. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Writing, Juggling & Chores

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by sprirj, Mar 22, 2010.

    Eh. Its nearly April and I've written about 30 words (of my novel) since November. Its not like I don't want to write but its tough to find the time...yes I know that probably sounds like the lamest excuse...'we make time' etc etc. But I'm really struggling at the moment. First off, I have a full time job. Its busy at the moment and intense, I'm working longer hours, through my lunch break, going in at weekends etc etc. My girlfriend works shifts, so she is rarely around to share housework. I cook and clean when I get in... I hate doing the washing up, which is a never ending task. I take her to work as she can not drive. Sometimes I think its utterly hopeless. I really want to complete my first draft by end of the year, but 4 months in and nothing!

    I'm thinking about joining a writers class for an hour a week late in the evening and at some cost in the local college, just to set some time aside to think like a writer. I really do need a big chainsaw if I want to carve out some time though. HELP!:( Any tips/advice?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Here's some motivation. When Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was in a labor camp, he used to jot down pieces of his novel on scraps, memorize what he had written, and then destroy those scraps. He ended up memorizing his entire novel during his prison sentence. You can similarly jot down ideas on scraps of paper and keep them for later, when you have the time write. That way, you are effectively writing while at work.

    Also, instead of a writing class for an hour a week, use that time to write at home. I know you are very busy, but there's really no alternative to setting aside some time to write.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Where does writing fall in your priority list? You posted more than 30 words to describe your frustration, for example.

    So you walk into your home, and there is a stack of dishes in the sink, and you haven't written a paragraph in days. Do you go to the sink first, or to your computer first?

    Now you need to ask yourself why you made the choice you did. When you go to the sink, you know exactly what you will do, and you will make progress. What will you feel if you sit down at your computer, open your story file, and sit there for fifteen minutes with your fingers hovering over the keys?

    After you drop off your girlfriend? what do you think about when you drive back home? What about when you're on your way to work? What if you spent that time thinking about where you are in your story, and what the next thing you want to write is?

    So you get home, the dishes are in the sink, and they aren't going anywhere. Take a few minutes, open your story file, and type in what you were thinking about while you were driving. Then do the dishes, and think about what to type next. When the dishes are done, you probably have some more fresh material to type in.

    Schedule it, and think about what happens next when you have mindless chores to do. Think about it while you're getting ready to go to sleep. and when you hit the snooze button in the morning.

    One more thing: Put a shortcut to your current story file on your desktop, in whatever location makes it most visible and convenient for you. Don't make yourself navigate through three levels of file folders to get to the file!
     
  4. MsMyth71
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    MsMyth71 Senior Member

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    As someone who has written quite a bit with a baby/toddler, you just have to squeeze in time.

    I write in chunks of 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there. I write with my kid on my lap. I write in my journal at the stoplight. I write on napkins, on old receipts. When life is busy, you just need to carve some of that time out. :)
     
  5. rainy
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    rainy Senior Member

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    I think you'll find that the truth is, nearly everyone here has nearly the same hectic schedule. I worked 40 hours a week (if not more), commuted 2 hours round trip, took RN college classes 15-30 hours a week. I'm married -- love him to death -- but it's just quicker if I did the housework. Not only was I keeping after a husband, but three ridiculously evil cats (they will get into anything and everything, no lie). I also use to run an online community with an offline counterpart numbering about 600 participants.

    Finally, I gave up sleep (and drinking) on Friday nights, locked myself in a bedroom and let it be known DND was serious. That meant I gave up sleep on Weds night to finish most of my homework assignments early. This meant I kept Rockstar in business, should've bought stock :)

    To keep my groove going through all the commuting, cleaning, studying, I kept scrap paper and a compartment of my brain handy. As others suggested, jot it down. I would scribble notes on the back of papers at work, and stuff them in my laptop bag. I'd write on the back of the grocery list while in check out line at the store. And -- god help us -- created dialogue while I was in the shower. I'll preserve dignity and pretend it was always just in my head :)

    It wasn't quick or easy, but one day I just made the decision to write the d*mn thing and I did it. There is sacrifice. I didn't go out every Friday like I normally tried to do. A few friends were offended. I did miss doing the dishes Friday night or would circumvent the whole evening meal and cleanup by ordering pizza.

    You can't let your real life fall into disrepair, but you can miss mopping the floor one night a week. You can tell the S/O to give you five hours one night during the week. Mine was fine with it, because it gave him time to game without guilt ;) He just had to learn that he couldn't knock on the door when he remembered something needed picked up at the store on the way home next week.

    During this time, I stayed away from video games, online forums and Yahoo messenger. All distractions. All things that were quicker forms of satisfaction.

    As Cogito says, it's about priority. You either make time, or you don't.

    Consider the time you use to read these forums, to check your myspace, to watch youtube, to channel surf, to play Madden. Even if you don't have a long stretch to write a chapter, you can write specific scenes. Then when you get that valuable alone time, you can start stringing it together.

    Best luck, though writing is anything but.

    Thirdwind: That's rather inspiring. Really puts circumstances into perspective, doesn't it? Memorizing the whole novel, ugh, my brain!
     
  6. bahloo
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    bahloo Member

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    This sucks, I can tell you. As a student, looming papers/assignments and readings cause a large motivation issue a lot of times for me. Like you, I haven't done written a lot since I had my initial idea to write a story.
    However, I choose to perfect my potential novel in my head, jotting down any sort of plot changes or new ideas in my phone, on my hand, any paper, or just committed to memory.

    Here's the best part. Once school has officially closed its doors at the end of April, I'm setting out half an hour or an hour, at least 3 times a week where I can just bang away on the keys and do some writing. Saturday mornings? Wednesday nights? I'm not sure when, but the concept is already exciting.

    Good luck!
     
  7. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are probably a lot of ways you could tackle this problem, but it all comes down to how badly you want to spew out your story. I know of two people who are in college, plus have a 20-hour a week job, plus write every day (and are published to boot! *I envy and despise them, however* :D). You figure out how to do what is really, really important to you.

    Good luck.
     
  8. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    Set an alarm for an hour earlier than you usually get up. There you have it -- sixty minutes that belongs utterly to you. Sit down and start writing.
     
  9. tonten
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    tonten Senior Member

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    I took a year off work so I could complete my manuscript, but of course, I had planned for this all my life so I could take the year off for it.

    Then it was a matter of ignoring the phone, seeing less of friends, and no TV/Video games. Thank god my friends understand my ambitions or else I would have lost them with all the "No"s I gave them last year.

    Before I took the year off, I would periodically jot down ideas while at work or doing other things.

    The good thing is, whatever you are doing, you could also always be thinking about the novel whether it be waiting for the bus at a busstop or if you are on your lunch. However, thinking of the ideas/plot/characters is very different from writing it. That's when you find those cracks in time so you can write it or practice writing it.
     
  10. Midnight_Adventurer
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    Midnight_Adventurer Active Member

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    A small notebook. Some of the best advice I’ve gotten from my Novel teacher at the moment (I'm studying Professional Writing and Editing), carry a small notebook around with you and whenever you have an idea for your novel just jot it down, simple, that way you have a record of it for later when you get a chance to do some writing :). I have a little blue one that's slowly filling up.

    Good luck!
     
  11. Cecil
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    Cecil Member

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    Time management is one of those skills that can make a huge difference regardless of your vocation.

    Now bear in mind that I suck at time management, but I have a theory:

    Do you actually not have any time? Or are the little pockets of time simply so small that you don't feel like you can use them to write? When you have a spare 15 minutes are you visiting just-for-fun websites?

    I remember being in high school and feeling like I didn't have nearly enough time to do everything, yet I was watching TV for two hours almost every day.

    I think that the trick is to not underestimate he value of little blocks of time. 15 minutes may not seem like much, but if applied every day, for a year, it can be very substantial. Even five minutes is better than nothing.

    Yeah, and something like a pocket size notebook can be very useful for taking advantage of those little blocks of time when you aren't at your computer.

    A novel (or research paper, or whatever) may seem overly daunting, and I don't usually want to even bother with them unless I feel like I can take a significant chunk out, but sometimes you just have to be happy with chipping away one bit at a time.
     
  12. bruce
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    bruce Active Member

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    I always carry my pocket sized PDA, a Sony Clie. It runs Palm OS and I have a text editor in it. Throughout the day, whenever I have little bits of free time, I would write and save it as a plain text file in the memory card. At the end of each day, all I had to do was pull out the memory card and transfer what I've written to my desktop computer. In six months, I've written nearly 90,000 words, the first draft of my novel.
     
  13. Dean_Mehrkens
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    Dean_Mehrkens Banned

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    The best advise I ever received regarding finding time to write was also the simplest. I said I just don't have time to write. The response was, "Then don't."

    If you don't have time, then you can't make time appear. Walk away from it now and save yourself the heartache of doing so in the future when you've invested countless hours. Your book will never be written, but its completely beyond your control, right?

    If that's a life you can live with, go for it. If you can't bring yourself to walk away from it, then get desperate enough to make it happen. You have time to eat, right? You can munch a sandwich while pumping out words.

    We all have full time jobs. I, like many others I'm sure, also have a part time job (web developer), and I have seven children under the age of ten. I've still managed to write a novel, start several more, pump out a few short short stories, and I'm starting a podcast (sure, I'm moving at a snail's pace, but at least I'm moving).

    You need to come to the realization that life will never slow down. It only picks up the pace. If you don't have time now, you won't have time later. So what's more important to you, writing, or whatever else you currently fill your day with?
     

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