They say if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. As a full-time teacher and mother of six, life can get pretty busy, and blissfully so. But no matter how hectic a week is, my brain becomes utter chaos unless I give it the writing release time it needs for the creative process.
Great ideas seem to flow out of every aspect of life, and there is never enough time to get all of them on paper. Frankly, it’s inhibiting if I try to just remember my thoughts until I can get to paper—total brain overload. Or if I manage to jot an idea-seed down, but can’t give it the space to grow into the scene or story it wants to be in that moment. Then my thoughts keep trying to work out the details while my body has to return to real life. But my kids don’t deserve that kind of divided me.
So I get into a rut. A good one. Following advice from Freelance Editor, Harold Underdown, my husband and I treat writing like my second job. We give it regular hours and a physical workspace. During the school year, it’s generally when the kids have gone to bed or when I’m sitting in the car waiting for a dance class to end. This summer, I chose to keep my school schedule and wake up at 5:15 every morning, drive to a local park, and write on my laptop in the comfort of my minivan. Both set-ups ensured no disruptions.
At first, I had trouble being productive with this long-coveted writing time. A lot of it was spent rereading parts of the manuscript to figure out what I’d said last and where I needed to go with it, or checking in with my plot chart to make sure that the details were logical. But after one week, two things happened. One: my good rut, the daily routine of writing at the same time and in the same place, became so productive that I fell into my groove more easily with each passing day. And two: on the days that an idea occurred to me outside of my writing time, I was able to write it down and walk away, knowing that there was a designated time to tend the idea-seed. It was completely liberating for me, and of course less stress also leads to more productivity.
So if you’re a busy person with a manuscript to get done, just do it. Find your good rut-thing and use it to get into your groove-thang.