Yesterday, I wrapped up my five day challenge to find time and inspiration as a writer. It was a rough three days, so I will communicate with you through the written form of a grunt: a list.
Things I’ve learned about finding time:
- If you have a full-time job doing something other than writing, the easiest times to write are: (1) right after work before you can even think about shutting down, and (2) a few hours after work when you’ve had the chance to relax, eat, and recharge. It sounds extreme on both ends, but it works. It’s all about finding what works for you, though. If you can exist on four hours of sleep a night and prefer writing from 11PM to 1AM every day, I’m not going to stop you. Everyone is different.
- If you’re a blogger AND a writer (I think there is a difference), you need to set aside blogging time, but you also need to set aside writing time. I’m not saying bloggers aren’t writers. If you care about content outside of your blog, however, you need to do double-time. You could just drop blogging, but then you risk losing what can be a valuable connection to other writers and a way to increase your reading audience. If you are both a blogger and, say, a poet, I recommend also having a different process for how you create. Writing directly after work on a routine basis may work for blogging, but may stifle the creative process of your other work. I wouldn’t listen to my pump-up workout playlist while I write (yes, I have a special writing Itunes playlist), so why would I use the same writing routine, right? Make sure your pockets are lined for the right weather.
- Finding time to write should come second only to finding inspiration. If you are inspired, the writing comes easier and time flies by faster. Not only that, when you’re inspired, you find the time to write when you thought you didn’t have any. You’re excited. You’re lost in the process. That’s what it’s all about.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how hard it is for people to enjoy what they’re building as they’re building it. Writers. Athletes. Business Owners. Whatever you call your passion.
In any career, you start building at the foundation. It may take years to get that foundation to a place where you can start to build a few more floors, but when you get there, most of the time you’re so caught up in the building process that you forget to appreciate the height of the floor on which you’re standing. Like a snowball rolling and rolling to become a snowman. You’re getting higher and higher and are too busy worrying and moving and worrying to feel the floor rise beneath your feet. Or to check out the newest view. To appreciate that your floor is getting higher--and you haven’t yet built the ceiling so there’s nothing stopping you from sprinting vertical. It’s not a bad thing… staying linked to the building process means you are authentically engaged in the work that you are doing. But just breathe. Take it in. You won’t know when you’ve reached your ceiling. You also won’t know when your floor is about to collapse. Appreciate what you have while you’re able to call it yours.
What I’ve learned about finding inspiration:
- Images help. Quotes help. Images AND quotes together help. They get the creative juices flowing just like a special writing spot. Even just looking at those writing spots helps me. Remember to live small on the outside so you can connect to what really matters on the inside.
- As much as working alone can help you stay inside your mind so you can really think about what you’re writing, connecting with other writers via twitter or in writing groups can really be good for your soul. A kind word here, a good piece of feedback here, and you’re ready to write another 3,000 words.
- Inspiration can come to you while you’re sitting down to write, but it can also hit you in the shower, at 12:01AM when you’re struggling to sleep, during a meeting at work, or when you’re out with friends. Those are the moments you should pay attention to because they mean the most. They’re the words that are asking-- pushing-- to be written, and largely write themselves. Always carry a notebook or have a spot in your phone or tablet where you can jot down thoughts when they pop up.
Overall, I still have some work to do on finding time and getting inspired, but I’ll let you curious cats be the judges. Did I make the grade? Are you challenging yourself to find time and inspiration on a daily basis?