Writing Tips for People With No Time
Writing anything longer than a shopping list is hard. Writing it when you have an utterly unrelated full-time job and any number of young kids is even harder.
There is actually NO time during just about any average day in which I can write – there is work, drop-offs (Co-Consul does all the pickups because she is awesome), kids sports, housework, house renovations, repairs, shopping, family, friends and even frivilous things like eating and sleeping! In order to actually get anywhere, I have to steal time where I can.
Here are a few ideas for people like me with NO time in their lives and a desire to write (in no particular order):
- 5am Write Club (Twitter: #5amWriteClub) : Yes – 5am. As many mornings a week as I can, I wake up at 5am, sit down and write as much as I can. I have to set a vibrate-only alarm so I don’t wake the house and yes, I do sleep through it sometimes (surely that means I was too tired to write?). Words of warning, though – if you have kids and they sleep close to the computer, make sure you gently close their door so you don’t wake them with the keyboard. There’s nothing worse than being interrupted in the middle of an intense scene by tired, hungry kids (well OK, perhaps the house catching fire or being eaten by bears would classify as worse, but there’s not much ELSE worse). Some keener folk even hit 4am, but I barely function at 5am, so 4am is beyond my capabilities.
- Public transport : Oh how I love public transport. Most of my book has been written on a bus to or from work. Find your seat (you have to get on early in the route or avoid peak-hour), open up the laptop or tablet and get writing! I found typing on a tablet screen to be very easy after a little practice, but even easier on a bluetooth keyboard (Mine is an earlier model of these: Kensington Android Bluetooth Keyboards)..
- Getting someone else to drive while you write : Not always possible, but AMAZING if you can do it. Imagine a couple of hours during which you can listen to music, write hard and actually TALK ABOUT what you’re writing to someone you trust. They may even pretend to be interested! If you can arrange this as part of a driving turn thing or whatever – do it. Wonderful things will happen. Oh yeah – you just need to get a bit of practice on public transport first or you may throw up from car sickness. I trained myself at Uni (College).
- Voice -to-text apps : These have really matured in recent times and, though they do spell things almost exclusively using US spelling and often write the wrong things – if you drive a lot, this can be your chance to write even as your hands are otherwise occupied! I ONLY use this when I have a sudden need to record an idea, but given a little structure and patience, I’m certain I could use it for longer, more focussed writing.
- Cloud applications such as Evernote : Wherever I am – I have my novel. Whichever device I have – I can write a note or scene for my novel. The other day, my tablet ran out of battery whilst Co-consul was being wonderful and driving so I could write, so I got out my phone and wrote on that instead. Don’t let anything minor like a small keyboard stop you getting those words written! Just remember that your work being in the cloud doesn’t prevent it being lost or corrupted, so always make sure you still back up your work locally and regularly.
- Novlr : Being a large-scale computer nerd, I have also just recently engaged with the Novlr beta. Novlr is a cloud-based application specifically for writing novels.For me this is a bit of a writing holy grail, so I was VERY excited when I heard about it. So far the verdict is: it works. I think the Novlr team are still working on features and though I haven’t played with it too much, the interface is so clean it’s almost not there. Please be aware, though, that “it works” is a very important and sadly not entirely common thing to say about beta software. I already have a 1,000-word feedback review/feature request list for them.
- Writing meta material when you’re not alone or doing other things (like watching bad TV) : By meta material I mean research stuff: “How far is it from this city to that city?”; “What kind of trucks do they use in this place?”; “How many people live in this area?”; “Goddammit, what was that character’s name again, I need a list of characters in each story arc!” The details which enhance your writing, but don’t really require you to focus fully should be left to times when you can’t focus fully.
- Friday Night Writes (Twitter: @FriNightWrites / #WriteClub) : Run by a group of WONDERFUL people, the Write Club is a global Twitter community of writers who get online some time between early Friday night in Australia and late Friday night in the UK & western USA and write their arses off in sprints. GET ON BOARD. I find it hard to attend due to Friday night being a particularly busy one in my life, but you’ll see me there at least for a couple of sprints most weeks.
Well that’s about all I have for now. HAPPY WRITING!