Jeanne: Making Time to Write

Making Time to WriteI’ve been working on my current manuscript for 2 and 1/2 years. I’ve written (not well, but at least finished) five manuscripts in the past. It generally takes me between six months and a year to complete that first draft.

So why is this one taking so long?

Part of the problem was that I got side-tracked (main-tracked?) with the McDaniel program. It was wonderful, but incredibly time-consuming. (Seriously–can you imagine what it was like sharing a writing forum with these ladies? I’d come home from work and sit down to read the equivalent of a novella every night before even starting on my homework. There’s practically no limit to how much energy these ladies are willing to put into discussing writing-related topics.)

A bigger problem has been coming up with quality time to write. Life’s demands on my time are fairly limited–work, housework and hubby-time (and he’s a pretty low-maintenance guy). But by the time I got home from work, set something edible on the table and made my way to my computer, I was too tired to write. Each keystroke felt like drudgery. Even worse, my inner critic had clamped her pince-nez firmly onto the bridge of her nose and sharpened her red pencil to a dagger point.

Back in the good old days of churning out a manuscript in a twelve-month, I wrote in the morning. Hubby left for work at 5 a.m., so we rose at 4. He’d head off for work and I’d park myself in front of my computer. I got to write when I was well-rested, before the stresses of the day had sucked out my creativity. These days, hubby leaves for work at a more reasonable hour and I’ve gotten into the habit of going to the gym in the morning. With a family history of heart disease and a sedentary job stacked on top of a sedentary hobby, I wasn’t willing to give that up.

I finally decided that if I was to ever finish this book, I would have to make time in the mornings again. So, I talked to my boss about coming in an hour later and I started going to bed earlier. Now I’m in bed by 9:30 p.m. and up at 4:30 a.m. Since I don’t have to be at work till 9, even with the time spent at the gym, I have an hour and a half to write every morning. I write after the gym, because that seems to find me at my freshest and most creative.

Since I started this new schedule, a little over a month ago, I’ve added 25,000 words to my manuscript. I have a goal of finishing the first draft by my birthday, in February. I’m fairly confident I’ll make it.

What is your best writing time? What can you do to make that time available for your writing?

7 thoughts on “Jeanne: Making Time to Write

  1. I get the same thing going on — if I wait past noon, I usually have too much brain fuzz going on. I keep meaning to try restarting my day with a nap . . . but I feel too guilty to nap )-:. If I have some time to unwind (and NOT on the internet), I can tackle things in the evenings. But I suspect morning is my best writing time. Especially if I go to bed with an idea.

  2. It used to be mornings for me, too, but since the kick-off of an extremely time/energy/creativity black hole of a project I’ve got going on at work, that’s stopped. And the stresses at work will not be going away for another 6-8 months (if not longer).

    So, I’m back to after work and that’s not working out too well. I mostly don’t make it to my computer, so I spend most weekend days writing. The only good thing about that? The limited sessions make me realize how much I love writing and how much I miss my daily dose.

  3. In the greater scheme of things, 6-8 months isn’t an eternity, but I’m sure it feels like one when you’re waiting to get back to your story. Since you can’t do much about the demands of your project, I hope that you can fall into a rhythm where the weekends yield good “zone time” because I can’t wait to read your book and find out what happens to Cheyenne.

  4. I agree Jeanne – I hope everyone finds enough “zone time”. I fell in love with all these stories during our McD classes and I want to read All. The. Books. by the 8LWs!

  5. I like to write in the morning, but I work at home, and sometimes I still have a fair amount of energy in the evening, especially for revision. But 4:30 or 5:30 in the morning? Kudos to you! I’d be a drooling idiot then, trying to figure out how to turn on the computer when I’m mostly still asleep.

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