When to Write

So the first problem I had to deal with when I started my NaNoWriMo experience was figuring out when I could do my writing. I have a full time job, and a wife at home that wants at least a little attention from me on almost a daily basis. And I had a routine. Don’t get me wrong, a routine is fine as long as your routine fits in with the things you are trying to do. For me, it needed to change. My routine was pathetic. Let me break it down for you.

I am an early bird. I have my alarm set for five o’clock, but I tend to wake up between four and four thirty every day. And yes, I do mean EVERY day. My job starts at 7:45, so what do I do with those three hours every morning? When I was trying to find time to write the first thing I had to do was admit to myself that most of that time was wasted. I would get up and go to the bathroom, then sit down at my computer. Not to do anything productive, but to play several of the time-wasting games on Facebook. You know the ones I mean: Farmville, Frontierville, City of Wonder, Cafe World, etc. I had at least a dozen of those mind-numbing productivity killers that sucked up my time every day. And not just in the morning, but several times a day. They were the first things to go. Part of my preparation for NaNoWriMo was to block most of those games. I have to admit, though, that I still play a few of them, although I am trying to convince myself to drop those as well.

I don’t have a car, so I usually have to leave the house by 6:30 in order to ride my bike to work and take a shower. But I still managed to usually get to my desk by 7:15, leaving me half an hour without anything to do. Sometimes I would continue with the Facebook games, other times I would surf the web or check my e-mail. I needed to change my routine to let me use that half an hour to write instead.

Break times and lunch were also times that I could use to do some writing. Not so much for my fifteen minute breaks, as by the time I finished my snack and using the bathroom I didn’t have much time left for anything else. But my 45 minute lunch break gave me plenty of time to do some work on my story. And if I packed a cold lunch that meant that I had a few minutes more than I would if I had to heat something up in the microwave. So I started packing sandwiches and salads for lunch. I could even keep them at my desk instead of the refrigerator so I didn’t even have to get up at lunch time, and could just grab a bite and start writing.

After work was tricky. Usually I had plenty of time to write, but first I had to make dinner for me and my wife. Thankfully, I’m not much of a TV watcher, but there are a few shows that I enjoy. So Mondays were tough because of Chuck and Castle, and Fridays I watched Smallville. Wednesdays I would go to play Dungeons & Dragons from 5:30 until 8:30, which didn’t leavve alot of time for writing. My solution: work harder in the morning and during my breaks to make sure that I hit my goal before my other activities.

So that’s it. I had about two usable hours every morning, along with at least half an hour of productivity over lunch, and anywhere from one to four hours available in the evening. The only thing I had to do then was to kill the distractions and actually USE that time.

So my advice for the beginning author: check your schedule and figure out what your priorities are, and what you are doing that is just a waste of your time. Then drop the distractions and schedule your writing time. It helps to tell yourself that you are going to start writing at a certain time. At least, it worked for me.

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