Writing Tips & Self-Care: Finding Time & Avenues to Write (Hold On)

I hate the phrase “make time”; there really is no such thing. I will take “finding time” and “carving out time”, but never “make time.” Spare me these so called inspirational, guilt-inducing quotes of cotton candy nonsense. I can’t help but sigh and roll my eyes at these stupid, pushy sayings. I really hate what they imply: “You’re failing.”

These phrases often appear aimed at women. I see them on home decor, workout shirts and hear them pronounced in churches. Women are underpaid, overworked and already wearied by the many demands of a fickle, patriarchal society. We are poked at daily for never being “good enough”, aka a man. The world needs to back off and leave us be.

Women will never be men and maybe–just maybe–we were never intended to be. Our needs and bodies are different; our dreams, goals and ideas, too. Lipstick is our warpaint and pantyhose our nearest weapon of strangulation. Just try putting us into a box again. We can make that into a coffin for you, complete with curtains and a pearl necklace.

My, this blog entry took a turn. Let’s return to the main trail, shall we? Just step over the corpse twitching there…

I tend to write in gulps or long periods of time during a random day. I don’t do scheduled writing (yet) and primarily write on the weekends after my chores are finished. I try to avoid societal guilt and pressure and write what I feel and want, despite what push back I imagine I’ll receive. This is an going process for me and an exercise in confidence.

Here’s some of what I do when I find time to be tight and to help bridge those inbetween writing times…

  • Write in your mind. This works especially when you’re inbetween classes, a passenger in a car or subway, or anywhere where you’re safe to let your mind wander. This can be calming at night before bed, depending on the individual. You can test ideas this way and dredge them back up when you can write.
  • Use your dreams as fodder. I tend to experience vivid dreams. I use these as “free ideas” from my brain and scribble them in my writer’s notebook. Even after a night terror, twist that horror around and use it in your next novel. Cha-ching, take that monsters of the night.
  • Write down a quick scene. This will only take five to ten minutes and counts as writing. Sometimes scenes will jump into my mind in the most random of places. It’s like seeing a clip of a movie in your mind’s eye. Grab your notebook and free write. Stash away the jewel. It’ll be your takeoff point later. Or add it to your nest of novel ideas to return to later.
  • Make it count. When you do write, write until you’re nearly empty. Some writers stop at a place where they know what come next; I think Hemingway did this. I personally find this frustrating and write until I reach an endpoint. Then I do the above bullet points or follow my rough outline to guide me the rest of the way. Experiment and do what works for you.
  • Reread your manuscript on your phone. We all use the toilet several times a day, right? Pull up your novel on your cell phone and reread a section or chapter. This helps the story to stay fresh in your mind and keeps the creativity and motivation flowing.
  • Use your lunch break to write. I do this quite often. We all have breaks at work. Grab your sandwich and grapes and sit in a corner with your writer’s notebook. Crack on, son. If you write in the evenings, this will be your springboard once again.
  • Rehearse quotes in your mind. Sometimes I imagine my characters talking out loud from their story world, repeating key dialogue or narration scenes. This helps keep the story fresh. Sometimes I’ll think of a better or different way of writing something by doing this and will jot it down–mentally or in the writer’s notebook.
  • Be self-affirming. I used to scoff at such things, but we writers (humans) do need to shore up our confidence and reassure our self-discipline. Say things to yourself like “I will finish writing this chapter”, “I am doing well; I’m having a hard time with this plot hole but I wrote five more pages today” and “I am a writer; I am writing and baby steps are acceptable” are all great examples.
  • Be patient. Don’t do the oh so human thing of comparing yourself to others. We’ll all arrive in our own time and space, at our own different pace. There’s really nothing wrong with this or being different from the author next to you plunking out a novel a month.

Have something to add? Feel free to write a comment below! Happy writing.

Song: “Hold On“, Alabama Shakes

Author: Peregrine Arc

INTJ female writer setting out to become a published author of contemporary literature. Writing includes horror/mystery, young adult fantasy and science fiction. All opinions, mistakes and dog hair are my own. Thank you for joining me.

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