Folding laundry while catching up with a friend on the phone. Walking the dog and reaching your steps goal for the day. Picking up the kids from school and getting the dry cleaning on the way home.
What does writing have in common with all these things? Absolutely nothing.
Writing requires your full attention, so multitasking isn’t an option. How does one juggle a crazy to-do list and write 500 words a day? Honoring your reality, a recent DIY MFA podcast, discusses how you can successfully balance life, including the unexpected, with writing goals. Gabriela offers wonderful and useful advice (as usual!), so be sure to give the podcast a listen.
I tend to take a more devious creative approach to finding writing time when life gets insane. Here are some moves from my playbook that you’re welcome to steal.
1. Blame the Bowels
Stuff your laptop or notebook up your shirt, groan about that damn gluten ripping your insides apart again, and escape to the bathroom. No one will want to come near that bathroom door. Place a few towels in the tub, lay back and write. Don’t forget to turn on the fan to drown out the sound of your keyboard.
2. Hit the Hay
Move up your bedtime, even if it is just 30 minutes and use that time to write quietly in bed. Turn your phone on airplane mode, throw the TV remote across the room and just let the words flow.
3. Be Selfish
If writing a novel is important to you, then it’s on you to let people know your goals. Be honest and don’t be afraid to be a little selfish. If someone asks you to bake 5 dozen cupcakes for some PTA event, then you turn that shit right down. Over-committing isn’t going to help develop your plot or characters. Practice your retort and say it with confidence, “I would really like to do XYZ, but I have made a very important commitment to write a book this year, so I need to respect my writing schedule.” Or you can say it my way, “No. I don’t want to. Bye.”
4. Pit Stop
I love listening to podcasts on my way to work. From This American Life to DIY MFA, they all seem to spark ideas. I keep a notebook in my car at all times. When an idea strikes, I pull over and just write. For this reason, I aim to arrive at work 20-30 minutes early so I never feel rushed when creativity strikes.
5. Make the Tough Call
Sometimes writing truly isn’t possible. You may work 60+ hours a week. I’ve been there…and I’m not anymore. You may need to make major life adjustments if completing your creative goals is something you feel that passionate about. What are you willing to sacrifice to make your dreams come true?
Let’s end of a serious note here – sometimes the choice isn’t as easy as using diarrhea as a writing excuse. Therefore, I also suggest you listen to the podcast The Most Amazing Destruction from the Beautiful Stories Anonymous show by Chris Gethard. Man, that conversation hits you in the feels and really puts life goals into a bittersweet perspective.