Writing When Extremely Fucking Busy: A Guide

Dream Police

The Dream Police are here to help you manage your time. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s get this out of the way: we are all Busy Adults With Many Important Things To Do. I get it. But some times are busier than others. Like the soap-box racer run from now until Christmas.

So, how do you fit the writing in? Here’s how.

1) Bring Down The Walls. Put as few barriers between yourself and writing as possible. I used to be bad for this. I never said I could only write in the morning, but if the morning went by and I hadn’t written, I was way more likely to say ‘fuck it’ until the next morning. Ditto for the computer: if I was AFK*, I’d likely not do anything. This is writer fetishism**, and it kills books.
Don’t make it so that you have to be using a certain computer, notebook, desk, system, or pen. Don’t make it so that you can only write at a certain time, a particular day, one specific location. Carry a notepad and pen for times when you’re out of the house. Learn to love the note function on your smart phone. As the ideas occur to you, jot them down. Make notes or scribble out full sentences on cocktail napkins. Don’t save it for later; do it now.

2) Hello Sunrise. Get up earlier. You’ll expand your day by more than that extra hour. If you’re like me, getting up early means I had to make a special effort. If I get up with the dawn—or before it, as has happened on occasion—I’m going to make damn sure that shit gets done. Otherwise, why the fuck did I bother to get up at all? Besides, most people are either still asleep or getting ready for the day, so the chance on interruptions is smaller. By the time the rest of the world is firing on all cylinders, you’ve already powered through the day’s writing and half your to-do list.

3) Crank it To Eleven. But first get a good pair of headphones. I’m writing this on the foldout couch in my sister-in-law’s basement while the washing machine is cranking, the weather outside is raging, my brother-in-law is working on the phone in the next room, and the rest of the family is wandering around upstairs and talking. It’s not quiet, is my point. And it is very easy to get distracted. So I have headphones, and I listen to Cheap Trick and Skid Row while finishing up my blog post.
Also, a very key point is that headphones serve as a visual cue for those around you that you are fucking busy and do not welcome conversation at this time. It’s the real world equivalent of being AFK or changing the Skype icon to ‘UNAVAILABLE MOTHERFUCKER, CAN YOU NOT READ?’*** I love talking to people, but sometimes you’ve just got to shut it out for a little bit in order to get shit done. Then you can go back to being a social human.

4) Say The Dirty Word. Not ‘fuck’, or any of the others that speckle this blog. And my conversation, for that matter. Learn to say ‘no’. No, I can’t take care of that for you. No, I will not be going there. No, do it yourself and go away.
The world is full of time vampires. Most of them do it not out of malice, but out of thoughtlessness. But the result of the same: your precious time will slip through your fingers. Unless you learn to say no to the constant demands for it.
So learn that word, you little badgers. Use it well. Because if you want the time to do this, you have to take it.

*Away From Keyboard, for those who don’t spend a lot of time online.
**In the sense of imbuing an object or ceremony with power, not in the sense of sexual preference. Though the two concepts are related, if your ever want to do some reading in anthropology.
***They also serve this function well while flying. I don’t love talking on planes. I just want to sit back, crank some good tunes, and enjoy the miracle that is human flight.

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