Creating a time space to write.

Hi again,

It’s been five days since my last post and they’ve all been as jam-packed as the next, leaving me little time to write.

My time in an average week is primarily spent in full time work and studying a diploma online topped off with: a variety of local church activities including youth group and bible study, basketball on Mondays with my local team and ensuring my wife Sarah and I have some time to hang out together and have a date night. That doesn’t leave a lot of time to write.

With Christmas approaching, it’s good to know that, apart from the days of Christmas, my Christmas shopping is done and bible study and youth group has shut down for the holidays. Free time; a little more time to write. What a blessing.

As I reflected on how little time I had over the last five days to write, I remembered an interview with George R.R. Martin in regards to his current Game of Thrones novel. He mentioned that his writing is being slowed and stymied by the NFL. Sport, it seems, is enough to distract the legendary fantasy writer from finishing perhaps the most in-depth and epic fantasy series in creation. (Steve Erikson’s Book of Malazan still sits a little higher in my eyes – but it’s a finished story and GoT is still on its way).

Of course, George has a lot of free time to write and his lifestyle doesn’t mirror mine at all but it’s reassuring for a young writer that even the most seasoned authors experience the pull and lure of outside distractions. Still, in the stark light of my own business, writing time is at a premium and books don’t write themselves and for an aspiring author working on their first novel nothing can be more frustrating than finding yourself starved of solid, flowing, writing time.

How to deal with it?

Well, earlier this year, I sat down and I timetabled the “standard Joshua Bishop week”. I included everything – wake up time, work, training at the gym, basketball, youth group, date nights with Sarah and even bedtimes (for a night owl like myself this was a shocking level of planning on my behalf).

Once I blocked those commitments in, I was left with some clear blocks of free time – time perfectly suited for writing and for the most part, that’s what I do. When the clock shows 3 pm, I’m straight into the writing process, taking advantage of the time I have.

This year, the plan has worked really well. Seeing on paper, the amount of free time I have to write motivates me to sit down and use it or risk throwing it away for the sake of other distractions.

Sure, date nights are not as romantically spontaneous as we’d like, but thankfully Sarah understands the need for me to put a figure on commitments so I can effectively see the time I potentially have to work on my novel.

Now of course, one lesson I have had to learn is to be flexible. Life laughs at structure and planning and throws curve balls the first moment it can. Meetings, dinner dates with friends and family, weddings or simply nights of lethargy and despondence are enough to derail any writing timetable. I look at my timetable like a gym training schedule or a diet plan. Sometimes you need to skip a session or have a cheat meal, but make sure you’re back into it the next day. Over the course of a month, you’ll still be regularly writing and being creative. That’s worked wonders for my mindset. Keep your eyes on the long term plan, whilst ensuring you don’t stay in one place too long in the short term.

One trickier detriment to any session of creative writing is of course, using the time you have effectively and wisely and most of all, being in the creative flow enough to actually get words on the page. I’ll be sure to share some of my habits and techniques for that next time.

How do you find time to write? Do you have clear blocks of free time? Do you struggle to find time in your work week? How well do you keep to your schedules? Let me know how you get around it in the comments below.

Until next time,

Write with all your heart,

Josh

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