Will Travel For Words: Create Writing Time by Karen A. Chase
When I first began writing, I argued with myself over writing conferences. Do I spend both money and time to attend, or am I better off writing instead? All these years later, I know that the first option is the right one. Why?
Everything taught at those conferences comes down to two things that make it entirely worthwhile. Writing seminars make me a better writer and they teach me to make better use of my writing hours.
Last month I was asked to moderate a panel about managing writing hours at the James River Writers Conference right here in Richmond. The panel discussed some of the excuses we use not to write and how to overcome them. Here are the top seven reasons we presented.
- THE DOG PUT THE KIDS IN THE DRYER
You have family and home obligations. No doubt, they can’t be neglected. So two tips to get over it:
- Address don’t neglect. That means handling what you need to, admitting to your family what you can/can’t do, and scheduling time for both them and your work.
- Do not disturb signs. Set hours so everyone knows when you’ll be writing. Put up a sign, or wear one if need be.
- BIG BLOCK HEADS
Some claim they need a big block of time versus taking 20-30 minutes each day or a few days a week. A recommendation includes keeping a notebook in the car or the bag for when you stand in line. Or better yet, take a loved one for a doctor’s appointment and enjoy that time in the waiting room instead.
- I CAN HO-HO-HOLD OFF
The big procrastination. Holidays and weekends are coming… When I turn 30… When the kids go back to school… so I’ll wait. See issues one and two for solutions, but also recognize that if you decide you’ll write over Thanksgiving, that you develop a working plan to prepare for that time. (Eg: Eat out, avoid over-committing to family events.)
- WAITING TO BE KNIGHTED BY THE QUEEN
Sometimes writers-to-be are waiting for permission to write. From whom exactly? A spouse? A parent? Yourself? A handsome prince? A simple solution is to tell people you are a writer. Once you begin admitting it, you will begin to believe in it. (Or at least you’ll feel guilty about lying, and so you’ll start doing it.)
- YOUR EVIL, VILLANOUS SCHEDULER
You’ll schedule wine night, but what about scheduling writing time? Why can’t your scheduler (you) cooperate? Again, it’s because there’s a part of you that sees this as a hobby. Two options here, too:
- Schedule it. It’s that simple.
- Give yourself sweet or tasty rewards. If you write for X-hours this week or each day, on Friday you can go to the movies. Rewards work better than punishments.
- OOPS I’VE PIDDLED
This is about “eliminating” networking, email, social media and other distractions and not “wasting” precious writing time. Shut off notifications on your entire system for scheduled writing hours. If you crave it, use social media as your reward for completing certain writing moments. Repeating this mantra works, too. “My author social network won’t mean squat if I don’t have a book to sell.”
- WRITING IS A PIECE OF CAKE
We incorrectly assume that writing is easy. It’s work. It requires a butt in a chair. But remember, it’s a dignified, legitimate profession. If we treat our writing time frivolously we end up not taking the writing seriously. For those around you, explain that you have goals and dreams, and that you are choosing an artistic profession to achieve them. Your kids will grow up to discover what you already know. Professional authors are someone to admire.
There you have it. Now you don’t have to travel to the conference for words. Go make time for them instead.
What are your biggest procrastinations?
What tips do you have for making time to write?
If you want to check out some other conferences, here’s a partial list on Wikipedia.
Join me next month for a meditation on mindfulness.
Karen A. Chase is a regular contributor to Shelf Pleasure, sharing journeys near and far in the pursuit of stories and novels in her monthly feature, Will Travel for Words. She is the author of Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log, winner of seven Independent Book Publishing Awards for travel and design. She is currently working on an historical novel set during the American Revolution. Find Karen on Facebook or on Twitter.
There's nothing we love more at Shelf Pleasure than a ..
Author and Shelf Pleasure contributor Karen A. Chase on how ..
One of author Mary Miley’s favorite things about being a ..
Author and police psychologist Ellen Kirschman, Ph.D., weighs the pitfalls ..
Little known fact about Shelf Pleasure's Kristen: she's obsessed with ..
Although Debbie De Louise has been a librarian and avid ..