Finding time to write when you're busy.

I know you think you're busy. I often think that I am, too.

On the most recent episode of Writing Excuses Podcast one of the things Brandon Sanderson said he learned was to be able to write in different environments. I think the thing I am most envious of full time writers is they get to write full time. (No kidding, huh?)

How would it be to get four hours at a time to write? That would allow you to complete a major scene from a novel. And if you could come back to it two or three days in a row, rested, focused and properly fed? You could write the next Great American Novel with that kind of time and freedom. Of course, when you are expected to produce like Brandon Sanderson, you would need all that time and more.

Two things I learned this year, (Well, one I built on this year, and one that I learned) were using a detailed outline and writing in the evening.

In 2013, when I wrote, The Pariah for Nanowrimo, I used a detailed outline. Knowing exactly what I needed to write when I sat down made it possible to produce a lot in a little time. Granted, I took Thursday and Friday off from the day job to get a head start and completed nearly 20K words that first weekend. Normally, I only get about 2 hours a day to write, and that's 45 minutes in the morning before work, about the same at lunch time, and then maybe an half hour of conscious and cognizant thought in the evening. 

If you haven't heard me whine about it before, I have a 10 and a 12 year old, both with their special needs, and a wife who is now mostly disabled. My days are often frantic and busy. But, using the time I had, I was able to get 100k words written in 28 days. If I had my days wholly devoted to writing I could compete with Brandon in quantity, if not quality.

This year, my oldest daughter, her husband and three children were coming to visit on the 18th of November. I knew if I was going to get my 50K words done, I would have to hit it hard at the beginning. Again, using a detailed outline, I was able to use my time most effectively and hit 50K on day #18. I finished the story at around 65K a week later.

The other thing I learned to do, and that was only recently, was to write in the evening. It's not my most creative work when I'm that tired, but it works to get the plot and dialog mostly laid out and I can spruce it up in the next few edits. The two things that distract me most in the evenings are tiredness and family. 

My wife expects me to spend some time with her, usually watching cooking shows or something else on TV. What I found was, if she drifted off, I would continue to watch what was on the tube. If I tried to turn the show off, it would wake her, and she would turn it back on, believing she would stay awake this time.

I found a 'White Noise' app for my phone. So instead of turning the TV off, I put on the head phones and listen to "Just Rain". I think that's the name of the app. It's a rainstorm and it goes on for ever. You can set the intensity of the storm, with or without thunder, or you can have it vary in intensity. I find it adequately blocks out the distracting sound of the television while letting me focus on my writing.