Second Career Writer, Part 1: Time Ferrets Anonymous, by Kristen C. Strocchia


Overloaded? Overwhelmed? Voices screaming inside your head demanding to be written while actual voices scream outside your head demanding to be taken care of?

I know the feeling.

By summer, I fancy myself a full time writer, but the other ten months of the year? Well let’s just say, when writing isn’t your first career, finding the time to nurture idea seeds can be like finding matching socks in your preteen’s room. Enter Time Ferrets Anonymous.

ferret something out/ ferret out something

Fig. to get, remove, or retrieve something from someone or something, usually with cunning and persistence

to discover something after careful searching

Idiom definition courtesy of:

As the idiom goes, getting writing time usually takes cunning and persistence. Discovering how to make this work often takes careful searching. So where do I ferret writing time out of life?

All day long.


1) Take a bath: Just as Archimedes is famed as solving a royal problem while taking a bath, a lot of my plot works itself out while I’m getting ready for and driving to work, waiting to pick my kids up from activities, grocery shopping etc. If I have a plot or character question to solve I keep the question in front of me, talk it out while I’m showering, making breakfast, driving, etc.

2) Carpe logos: Cease the answers as they present themselves. Catch details when they come to mind. At home or out and about, I text myself or voice-record my spoken thoughts and jot these down into my notebooks the next time I get a chance. Then, when I sit to write, I can retrieve all my captured thoughts and plug them into my WIP (or notes/outline for future WIP).

3) Multi-task: Family time is family time. No compromise for me. But when the kids get TV time, I can snuggle up on the couch, monitor what they’re watching, and nurse my manuscript a little further. On my nights to cook, I keep my manuscript on the counter and add sentences between stirring, flipping, et al.

4) Keep it accessible: I haven’t met many others who still write with an old fashioned pen and notebook, but for me it’s the only way to keep my work accessible. If I had portable technology, maybe that would work too, but I don’t. My husband I share a laptop that doesn’t have WiFi access in most of the parking lots where I wait for my children. Even when I’m revising, I find more time if I have a hard printed copy that I can carry with me—in full or a few chapters at a time—to work on when a spare moment presents itself.

On work days, all this time ferreting sometimes amounts to no more than a few sentences to my credit. But a sentence a day can keep me making forward motion and frequently blooms into an unexpectedly inspired paragraph or even a page or two.

But I know that I’m not the only Time Ferret out there.

So, how do you eek writing time out of your busy schedule?

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2 Responses to Second Career Writer, Part 1: Time Ferrets Anonymous, by Kristen C. Strocchia

  1. ritakenefic says:

    This time last year, I was in your shoes…teaching ten months a year. When I was, I often ate lunch at my desk so that I could write. Writing relaxes me so it wasn’t much of a sacrifice and I found it easy to each a sandwich, yogurt and an orange and devote the rest of my lunch period to writing. Thanks for sharing your ideas…love them!

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