Setting Up Your Environment to Create
All of these little solutions have one big solution in common. It takes a little bit of planning but that little bit of planning and organizing will change your life. You should have an area that is just yours to write in, even if it is the left side of the kitchen table.
You shouldn’t have to collect your supplies, set up your workstation, find a pen and rifle through your notes before you can start writing. That cuts into your writing time. Keep everything set up so you can just sit down and write.
If you can’t possibly devote any area of your home just to your writing, or if it is necessary for you to be mobile (you have kids who play in different areas, your work requires travel, etc.) it is a great idea to get yourself a binder and make like you’re in junior high.
Keep folders arranged by project with all the materials you need in each folder. Keep a pencil case inside stocked with working pens and pencils.
Expanding files (the kind you buy at office supply stores for organizing bills and such) are great. If you write on a computer, keep your computer powered on and logged in.
Just put it in sleep or energy saver mode and with a wiggle of the mouse it will be ready to go. Keep your current projects on your computer desktop, not in My Documents or in other folders.
You can locate them instantaneously and get working. What seems like a few meaningless seconds can mean a lot when you write in minutes.
The Most Important Thing
All of this leads us to the biggest tip of all. To persevere over limited time and projects that take longer to complete than seems necessary, you must have enthusiasm for what you are working on.
Struggling with lack of time can sap the fun from a project and have you watching General Hospital before you even know what you’re doing. And if you’re working on something long, like a novel, writing in four or five minute spurts makes it look like, if you’re lucky, you might be finished with the book by the time you’re ninety.
So how to keep the enthusiasm up? One way is to surround yourself with motivational cues.
Keep novels or books of poetry or magazines around that you wish you’d written or written for. The idea of holding your own book, or a magazine containing your handiwork in your hands is very, very good motivation.
Which takes us to the one thing that will keep the fires burning even on those days when we only manage to get two lousy minutes in: Love. That’s it.
When you’re in love you spend a good part of the time when you’re away from your beloved thinking about them, about how it’s gong to be when you’re together again, about challenges to your relationship. That same thinking about your projects will keep you motivated, in flow, and will hopefully help you work out challenges you might be facing.
If you can work those challenges out in your thoughts, in the moments when you’re brushing your teeth, or commuting, or feeding your kids, when you get to the page you won’t be sitting there dumbfounded. You’ll know where you’re going.
Only write things you truly love. It’s tempting, especially when you’re not proven yet, to write anything that will get you published.
But how much will you long for the page then? Once you get your few precious minutes with the page or the computer, let it all out.
If you don’t love it, if you’re not passionate about it, if it doesn’t entertain you, you’re not going to be motivated beyond the first stages of writing. You won’t have the steam to carry you through those short choppy writing sessions. Remember that our writing time, for most of us, is the time when we are most ourselves.
This is your time to be wild, to be bad, to be sexy, to be heroic, to be whatever it is you spend the rest of your time wanting to be. Don’t waste it writing something you feel obligated to write.
Start stealing time anywhere and any way you can. Here’s to using those valuable minutes effectively.
Colleen Vanderlinden is a freelance writer from Harper Woods, Michigan. Besides writing fantasy novels, she is the creator of In the Garden Online, a gardening site for Michigan gardeners.