We’re all under time constraints these days – work, partners, kids, parents, exercise, social media; the list goes on – so it pays to be flexible in our approach to how we allocate the precious minutes we do have and grab writing opportunities whenever and wherever they arise. Here’s a short list of time consuming activities that I’ve had a rethink about and turned to my advantage.
• Leave that book alone. Unlike me to advise anyone to stop reading, but hours… days can be lost between the covers of a good book. It you’re serious about writing that novel, you’re going to have to ration your reading. Early morning and late at night work well for me. Oh, and dump those magazines. Added bonus – think of the money you’ll save.
• Ditch the ironing. It’ll be a while before anyone notices and when they do, point them to the cupboard where the iron lives. I guarantee they won’t take it out. This also works with dusting… and vacuuming…
• Turn the television off. Bit of a cliché these days, but giving up one soap per evening and writing instead really does add up to the best part of a novel in a year.
• Get your groceries delivered. I can’t think of a more constructive way of saving an hour or two.
• Organise your cooking. If you’re spending time preparing a casserole/bolognese/curry you may as well make more than you need. You can freeze the extra and have a ready meal later in the week. Another hour saved, plus no shopping required. Win, win.
• Use the time taking the dog for a walk/kids to swimming/mum to the hair salon to plan the next chapter or mull over that tricky dialogue. Record your thoughts on your phone, or take a notebook. Everyone’s talking to devices these days so you won’t look odd.
• Exercise is a great way to carve a few minutes of me-time out of the day, but don’t waste those punishing sessions on the treadmill or cross-trainer – daydream your way into a new plotline, or disentangle that thorny problem you’ve been grappling with.
• Lunch hours. When time is limited, flash fiction is a good way of maintaining your writing muscles. Or Google ‘plot ideas’. A better way to waste your precious few moment of writing time I have yet to find. It’s fascinating; a bit like watching an accident on television: you want to stop, but you can’t look away.
• Coffee breaks. Staring into space is a very important part of the writing process – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And allowing yourself some uninterrupted thinking time will always pay dividends.
You’ll have noticed there are only nine tips on this list. That’s because the final one is an attitude of mind rather than a time-saver. Tip number 10: Just get on with it. Remember, procrastination is the thief of time. But you didn’t need me to tell you that, do you?