Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Creating Space for Writing

You're busy right? We all are, so let's get on with it.

Let's consider the possibility for getting some writing done and work/life balance (if such a thing exists). It's one of my favourite subjects. And I'm guessing it's one of yours. You're here right?

Ok let's get down to the nitty gritty. This won't take up alot of your time.

Let's say that you have a partner, +/- children, a career, a job, a mortgage, extended family, friends and other interests , but you want to get some writing done. What you need is some head space. Here's how to create it.

Give yourself permission to create the space you need. If you are like me everyone else comes first. What I'm asking you to do is put yourself first for 4 nights. This is difficult but it is not impossible.

List all possible escape destinations. I go to stay at my parents condo when they are overseas, to destinations within one hours drive of my home, to seaside holiday villas in the middle of winter (it's cheaper), or on planned retreats with other writers.

Plan to go away for at least 4 nights. I take 7 because I know it takes me 48 hours to get into the state of flow. This is when I become so absorbed in my writing that nothing else matters. I know this because I journal while I am away.

Plan your project before you go. One month out, commit to a project. Then gather the resources you need to work on it. Write a plan, and write about what you want to write. If you are going away with other writers meet and discuss plans. It will help you to commit.

Pack all the things you need for writing. Think about your comfort as the first priority. If you are heading off to a cabin you will need a comfortable chair, slippers, you're favourite cup, a printer, extension leads, music etc.

Pack all the things you need for you: good food, fine wine, yoga mat, runners, dvd's, chocolate.

Invite others who need writing space (that would be most writers!). Structure your time and during breaks talk about your writing. Ask for help, edit a piece of their work and have them edit yours. I usually brainstorm headings with other writers. The results can be hilarious, but I always come away with great headings.

Journal regularly during your writing retreat. Write about what you are writing about, how you are feeling, your goals and ideas. Set goals for each day. Before you pack up to come home plan your next retreat.

Finally, don't be reluctant to plan your writing time. The structure is important. It will make you excited about getting some writing done.

3 comments:

Lily Robinson said...

This is an area I have a hard time with. Hubby is getting better at respecting my writing time. Now, I have to respect it!

Katherine Jenkins said...

Organization is what I need. I hope to be a little more disciplined with my time. I am very intense and when I start writing I don't stop for days....but then I'm exhausted in my day job....balance is very important.

Marilyn said...

Great suggestions...
However when I went back to school...I found that I couldn't let life stop me from my goals. There were always going to be distractions, so, I carved time when ever and where ever I was.
At my son't football practices, at lunch time, at late hours when everyone had gone to bed...I worked for 5 years...writing papers, etc...
and this built in a huge habit of discipline that helped to achieve my academia achievements...and beautiful GPAs that flourished.

Get-aways are nice...but this has to be a lifestyle. Writing is a commitment. It is a journey. It is a SOLITARY event.

I will say, organization is wonderful...and even now, during the day, I will write in my notebooks, by hand, to capture those moments.

Whatever works for you...in the framework of your life...is what yields the greatest fruit.