I guess it’s easy enough when you have plenty of time to sit at your computer and write away to your heart's content. You can find some clarity of mind and have the opportunity or luxury even to take the time to think and then write, reviewing your work regularly as you go. You might even be able to plan your day around your writing. Do a little bit of writing, take a break or do something else and then return later. All the while your mind ticking over with ideas for when you return to the computer.
You might be able to sit with your new year’s diary and plan out what you would like to achieve in coming months. You might have grand hopes and expectations of yourself. After all why can’t you just do this every day? Build it in to your routine? It’s surely worth it to see the end result of your efforts. You know how fulfilling it is to see your articles published or to make progress with other writing projects. You know what it feels like to be a writer.
Well why indeed? You return to your normal routine of work and other household and family demands and find that the writing drops off. Your time and energy is taken up with other things. Your mental capacity to think, let alone to think creatively, is diminished. You find yourself getting home from work, getting your dinner, doing necessary tasks and then collapsing in front of the tv or going to bed early. You have an early morning the next day after all.
You wonder how you forgot during the holiday period just how demanding it is to get up and go to work everyday. How much of a toll your day to day work takes on your mind and body. How you feel you need to prioritise that part of your life. How the time seems to go so quickly. It may have been a fruitful time spent at work and you might feel proud of your efforts of getting back into the swing of it after a break, but you feel like you’ve let yourself down with your writing. It’s dried up. Not a letter or word has been written, let alone a page or anything close to publishable material.
So what does it take to build writing into a busy working life?
• Using time wherever you can find it, perhaps on the train, perhaps getting out of bed ½ hour earlier, perhaps ½ before going to bed, perhaps instead of looking at twitter and facebook, the ultimate modern day timewasters.
• Remaining mindful, continuing to notice things around you, observing what is going on so that it becomes fodder for your writing. This way our lives might feel less disconnected. We can start to see how everything can contribute to our writing life.
• Planning realistically. Accepting that the busy working week might be not the time that a lot of writing will happen. It can instead be a planning time or a note-taking time. It can be seen as a sustaining time in other ways – sustaining us financially of course. This contributes to our capacity to write when we can. Going easy on ourselves might be helpful.
• Prioritising writing time during the weekend. Building in time to do our writing, preparing ourselves for it, having notes jotted down from the week, enjoying the anticipation of having this time to ourselves. Being careful about protecting this time. Seeing it as special and nurturing to ourselves.
• Accepting that there will be times when we are emotionally and mentally exhausted. Writing might not be able to happen as well when we are caught up with life’s events. When we are busy caring for others or worrying about something that’s not right in our lives we might just not have the mental space to write. We might use this time to keep a journal or find some other ways to deal with those feelings. We can trust that our capacity to write will return and our life experiences will enhance our writing.
• Begin with something small. Move away from the lap top and use pencils and paper. See if that makes a difference to our ideas, to our way of thinking, finding the words we are looing for. Continually let our way of working evolve will keep it interesting and help us to feel motivated and energized. It will also remind us that there’s no right way to do this, just finding what works best for us.