So, you have a deadline, some great ideas, awesome characters and some killer twists…but not enough words?
Why is that? Let me guess: no time, right?
You want to get to that 1 hour per day writing habit (or even just 10-30 minutes per day) but somehow there is always that one thing that comes up and zaps your time.
I know! Me, too!
I get it. Life is busy…for everyone! So how come some writers seem to manage to endlessly produce whilst others falter at the first hurdle – completing a first draft?
I think that the prolific writers have a secret: they ‘Squeeze The Day’. And no, this is not a phrase of my own creation. In fact, I stole it from the diary that I bought yesterday.
But this is not important. The important part is that the phrase made me think about how to squeeze my days to ensure that I do the #1 thing I have to do to be a writer: WRITE
I spent a lot of time last night contemplating the idea and I managed to come up with 7 squeeze tactics which I believe anybody can use to make more time for writing and achieve indie author success.
Squeeze # 1: Wake up 30 minutes early
Ok, this one seems harsh. But it definitely works. If you can defeat the whining, feet stamping, unhappy little toddler inside you, throw off the covers and fight the temptation of the snooze button, you can get up 30 minutes earlier than usual and write. I’m a morning person, and whilst I don’t always succeed at this game I often benefit from a little burst writing in the early hours of the day when my mind is most productive.
Squeeze # 2: Go to bed 30 minutes late
Of course, not everyone is a morning person. To counteract the commonly given impression that indie author success can only be attained by the early birds, here’s my squeeze for the night owls that many writers are. If you find that the night inspires you and you can put in 10-30 minutes of writing at the end of the day, get your butt in chair and do it. You’ll thank yourself when you make your first sale on Amazon.
Squeeze # 3: Writing doesn’t equal typing
This glowing piece of writing advice comes from no lesser than the mind of screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and it was definitely one of the most liberating pieces of writing advice I ever got. According to Aaron, writing doesn’t equal typing. In fact, he says that most of the time writing looks like lying on the sofa watching TV. So, if you find that this is all you can do some days, do it. I like to watch TV dramas with a notebook handy and when ideas pop into my head I write them down in preparation for my next early-morning writing burst.
Squeeze # 4: Writers need dishwashers!
I have been wanting to write a blog post about why ‘Writers Need Dishwashers’ …one of these days I will. Everytime I go round my house, cleaning and tidying, I can’t help but think about all the time I am using to do these activities instead of writing. Sod it then, you might say. Let the house be filthy and write…yeah! Well…unfortunately I’m house proud and I like it clean. But there is a beautiful and indisputable fact: we aren’t simply writers. No! We are writers in the 21st Century where many (MANY) of our chores can be done by machines …or other people. So, do yourself a favour and get a dishwasher (and ideally also somebody to operate it). Of course other household appliances such as washing machines, washer-dryers, husbands, wives, partners, neighbours and cleaning professionals are also available. Take your pick, find what works for you and make time to WRITE!
Squeeze # 5: Run away!
This one sounds pretty dramatic – and it is! If you give your commitments a chance to find you, they will. 100%! If you want to write you need a sanctuary, an escape. You need sacred writing ground where you can sit, think, type with the (proverbial) door closed and churn out the first draft that you can then self-edit before showing it to anybody. Run away! Go to your writing room (or shed – Phillip Pullman has a shed). Go to the local coffee shop (preferably a local independent one for character). Walk by the river or by the beach, climb a cliff, hill or mountain. Do what you need to do but every so often, get away and write your heart out. It’s great!
Squeeze # 6: Get yourself a diary…and use it
Be it electronic, or paper-based / large or small / beautiful or ugly / square or rectangular / day by day / week by week / year by year. Get a diary and use it. We’re writers. We love books, we love writing, so what’s not to like about writing in your diary. If you can’t find time to write, take time to plan. Write down everything you do all day and find the gap. Any gap. Make that your writing time. And then when it comes, sit down and write.And whatever you do: don’t think. Do what the diary says instead.
Squeeze # 7: Make writing non-negotiable
Even though most of us want to write more than anything else in the world, writing is often the first thing we strike from our diaries when the week (or weekend) gets busy and we are forced to pretend that we are super-human by working down long lists of chores. What a shame that busy doesn’t equal successful, isn’t it? Well, no diary, tactic or ninja-trick in the world is going to help you if you let the demons get inside your head. Make writing non-negotiable. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall behind on your writing target but don’t accept any excuses you can come up with not to write. Make writing -any writing – compulsory and see what happens.
If you have enjoyed this post and if you have tried squeezing your time, let me know how it went in the comments below. I would love to know how you’re all getting on with your writing.