Very few writers only write. Most of us are juggling multiple jobs, both inside and outside of the home. So how do we find time to write? What I'm finding is it changes with the season my family and I are in at that moment. One thing I have learned very well is that without consistent time with my butt on a chair (B.O.C), I will never, ever, ever meet my writing goals and deadlines.
So how do you find that precious B.O.C. time when the baby needs a diaper, the dog needs a walk, your boss is on the phone, and your husband wants some time? Here are a few things I do that I hope help you discover your own pockets of B.O.C. time.
1) Look for time wasters...and get rid of them. Right now it's jelly spash for me. I am way too competitive with myself, so I'll delete the app from my phone, only to readd it. At other times it's been cutting almost all TV time. I've stepped away from group blogs, prayed over my schedule to find things that I'm doing that I don't need to do. I've even hired babysitters when the time was just too hard to find without extra help. You might think each of these matter, but those five games of jelly splash just ate ten minutes I could have been writing.
2) Teach yourself to maximize the time when you can't write. I feel like I am taxi driver mode, and I don't see an end in sight. So are there books I can listen to on tape? How about writing podcasts? ACFW workshops? Etc. My kids sometimes groan when they hear another workshop cue up, but then I realize they're actually listening. That counts as English in our homeschool, baby. Two birds with one stone. Maybe keep a notebook in your purse so you can always jot down scene and character ideas. Or those dazzling lines of dialogue you'll forget before you get back to a keyboard. If generations wrote books longhand, so can we. I almost always carry a novel with me so I can be reading and analyzing in whatever pocket of time I have. You'll find there are so many ways to redeem the small pockets of time that crop up when you're running kids or others all over town.
3) Learn to write in quick bursts. For me that means setting a 20, 25, or 30 minute timer and writing just as fast as I can. With the two books I'm writing currently, I haven't had the luxury of hours. But I am retrained myself to write very fast (1500+ words) in a 30 minute segment. Then I step away for a couple minutes, then dive back in. I thought the words would be terrible, but so far they haven't been. This technique has been exactly what I need since I no longer have larger blocks of time like naptime.
4) Always stop in the middle of a sentence, paragraph, or scene. If you know you struggle to get back into a scene, then try this technique. What I'll do is stop in the middle of the action and then leave myself bullet point notes to remind me what I was thinking for the rest of the scene. Then I reread the written part of the scene, lightly editing it, before diving into the new material. That has really helped me when I needed to be focused when writing a book.
Have you tried any of these techniques? What other ones do you use to find and make the most of B.O.C. moments?
An award-winning author of twenty books, Cara is a lecturer on business and employment law to graduate students at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. Putman also practices law and is a second-generation homeschooling mom. She lives with her husband and four children in Indiana.