Finding Time

After taking a writer’s workshop earlier this summer I committed to writing every day, even if I could only carve out 15 minutes at a time. I read Anne Lamott’s bird by bird and am reading Stephen King’s On Writing; they both write daily and suggest anyone wishing to improve their skills do the same. I’ve read several blog posts about writing, lately, too. The message is clear – Just Do It.

Slowly, as summer fully kicked in, I got busy. Besides the forty hours a week at work, making sure I had clean clothes and underwear, vacuuming and dusting, cleaning the bathrooms (in other words, getting the stuff done that we all have to do) I played a lot. I spent a weekend in NYC with 3 of my friends. Another weekend was dedicated to home improvements. A Sunday matinée at the Westport Playhouse with Bill, a day at the spa with my sister, family parties, our usual hikes, morning runs, a bike ride rounded out the month of August.


At least I was reading about writing!

My daily writing practice suffered. Good intentions and all that.

As I flipped the calendar’s page from August to September, I recommitted. Every day this week I’ve pulled my laptop out at lunch and tapped away on the keyboard. I usually run errands, go to the gym or have lunch with co-workers, but this week I’ve brought lunch from home and have stayed put. I toggle between five open documents on Word, depending on the essay or short story I feel inclined to work on. I’m trying to write, not edit, during that hour every day. I’m writing my first bad drafts.

I even submitted an essay I wrote about my ex-husband’s death and how mourning him and our marriage felt strange, something I shouldn’t be allowed to do. A contact through Word Press encouraged me; I’m hoping I’ll hear either way. As soon as I hit send, like any good neurotic, I thought “Why? Everything I write is crap.” Maybe. Maybe not.

In the meantime, I’ll keep carving out time to write every day, all of the good, the bad and the ugly.

We all have the same 24 hours everyday. How do you budget your time?

41 replies

  1. Oh, I’m so happy to hear you submitted your essay, Geralyn! I love to hear that. The best way for me to budget my time, turn off my browser.
    I love that photo of you reading! Enjoy the holiday!

    • Thanks, Jill. I thought it was somewhat well written until I sent it off. Now I’m not so sure! Hope to get some feedback though. I agree with you about turning off the browser. I can lose precious time that way. Have a great long weekend. Hope your editing is going well.

  2. I soooooooooo relate to what you’re saying here. WHEN DO WE FIND THE TIME? Well, I used to get up at 5 a.m. and start writing at 5:30 a.m. I then exercised at 7 a.m. so I could go to work at 9 a.m. That used to be my routine. Now that we’ve moved from one coast to another, I’m writing full time, but I still find it hard to ‘find the time,’ between my blog and teaching writing classes and workshops and talking to book clubs about the two books I’ve published. So I’m always back here at 5:30 a.m., writing. That’s the best time of the day for me; just me, my characters, and my creativity.
    By the way, we all know that reading is one of the most important things a writer can do, so sitting at the spa with a good book (or Lamott’s or King’s writing books – I’ve read them both several times), counts!!! 🙂

    • I get up at 5 am twice a week to run. Why can’t I get up at 5 am the other 3 days to write? Maybe I can start with 1 day and see where that takes me. I’m a little envious that your life is centered around writing but it sounds like you have the same time issues as me (and most of us). I’ll keep committing to my writing and find the time. Thanks, Pam!

      • In some ways, when I worked at an outside office, my life was more structured, and so was my writing time. Working/writing for myself now, I need to use more discipline! :-0

  3. Practice makes perfect or so they say. When I first started blogging I posted twice a week. Then I committed (to myself) to 4 times a week and it helped a lot. I learned to write faster and not doddle so much. Getting the idea on paper is the hard part. Editing it goes fast. I have cut back to posting 3 times a week but I write more often. One of the side effects of spending so much time on the computer is that I don’t read as much. My eyes get tired. My solution is that I need to be 30 years younger.

    • I’ve done the opposite, Kate. When I first started blogging I posted several times a week. Now my goal is 2X/week, Friday being one of the days. It doesn’t always happen but I can usually post something on Friday. I’ve got 3 blog posts in my draft that I’m working on in addition to the essays/fiction. Such a juggling act. I want to blog, read and respond to other bloggers, write the stuff not intended for the blog, read. Happy problems for sure! I definitely waste time surfing the net, that needs to change! And maybe I need to write faster and doodle less, too.

  4. Geralyn, this is wonderful. The intention is half the battle. I’m so proud of you for submitting that essay! Releasing our work to the world is a huge step in embracing ourselves as writers. Good luck and KEEP WRITING! xoxo Julie

    • Thanks so much, Julie. I’m hoping to get feedback on my essay, good or bad, rather than it sinking to the bottom of a black hole. Setting my intention today to write. Have a great long weekend!

  5. Impressive. Keep writing!!

    I have a hard time too. I have a 40 hour a week job, I write for the local newspaper and I have 3 sometimes 4 articles due at any given time with other publications. I also teach 2 fitness classes a week. And yes, then there is laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, packing lunches, vacuuming, etc. Plus we moved into a new home about a month ago and sheesh…talk about home improvements. I’m exhausted!

    I just want to lay around and read a book!

    • Wow, you’ve got a full plate, Nicole. And you forgot to note your blog! 🙂 Sounds like a day of laying around and reading is well deserved. I did a lot of that at the spa last weekend.

  6. Good for you. It can be difficult to get the daily writing in, but once we start and give it a good go, momentum picks up and it becomes almost a habit. That being said, there are days I just don’t get to it. And I’m okay with that. I just try again the next day.

  7. Congrats on submitting your essay! That took courage!
    As for time, I sadly waste a lot of it. 😦 When I was without the internet, I made a ton of progress on my book and other things. So I have only my sad self to blame.

  8. Good for you Geralyn. I’m glad you’re carving out that time. As for me, I’m not the most organized person in the world. My agenda is pretty full up, and there’s still so much more I would like to do. My big thing right now is mixed media art and poetry. Having a blog on WordPress helps me to be committed to that.
    Congratulations on submitting your resume. And I think it’s highly unlikely it’s crap.
    Have a great weekend.

    • Thanks, Staci. I just have to worry about me and finding time to do what I need to do and want to do. I know you, and others, have children. Can’t imagine how hard a few extra minutes must be sometimes. Glad you’re able to find time for your art and poetry and blog about it. You have a great weekend, too!

  9. Hey, Geralyn:
    Congrats! You started and despite setbacks and breaks, you’ve recommitted to it.
    As for feeling that what you’ve written is crap, welcome to the club! What writer has not muttered that in frustration?
    Also, do remember that the first few writes are only for ‘the gushing’ — getting the thoughts down. It’s not time for pretty, it’s time to write down what’s in your head. Later, you will polish everything. For now, just write. Anything, everything. Just write and don’t judge yourself too harshly.

  10. Good work! Yes, I find it best to write early, but I also love my 4 miles in the rare morning quiet of LA. And getting away from your del is also important. If you can work out a schedule of morning writing on days when you leave your desk at lunch and vice-versa, maybe that will give you enough variety (and movement to keep away back pain).

    And don’t be too hard on yourself. If you don’t actually LIVE, you won’t have new experiences an interactions to inspire you. And you might find yourself writing the same story, repeatedly.

  11. Oh good for you! Keep at it. Both of those books are so good. Well, there’s part of On Writing that bored me to tears. But the parts that were good were SOOOO good! I can never balance all my interests and diversions. I know I should write every day, but…well, writing a post on FB, doesn’t count. THAT, I seem able to do. Hmmm. Therein lies the problem. Keep at it. Can’t wait to see what it all leads to. You amaze me.

    • Thanks, Linda. I didn’t write everyday this week but most days. And, I edited the essay I wrote and re-submitted it. I know what you mean about balancing it all. I have so many interests and not enough time! Haven’t been on WP very much lately, lots going on. Hope to be back soon!

  12. I’m starting to feel like I might have to (shudder) get up earlier and just write before I go off to work. I’m not a morning person so this is difficult for me. But, ironically, I have been getting up and getting to work earlier the last few weeks. I wanted to get to the office while things were still quiet and write for a bit before work, but I inevitably just start working (in part because things are not that quiet at 8 am). Then I thought I would write during lunch. But if the weather is good, then I want to walk, a necessary exercise when I spend the bulk of my day sitting. But often when I do try to write at my desk, I get interrupted. So I haven’t been very successful at daily writing, always finding an excuse or an interruption. So I’m starting to feel like I just have to get up earlier. Yikes.

  13. I don’t! Sadly 😦 Still looking for a magic solution. Anything up to 4 hours disappears once I’m out of bed and on the laptop, writing, answering comments and commenting on WP. Then I live a little while, get out and do stuff, and then from around 6pm till bed I’m back on WP. Sad, isn’t it? But I do live quite a lot in between times. I don’t feel the need to write a book as such but I do love to write.
    If you need to do it, you always find a way. Just write… it can’t hurt 🙂

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