While we all fantasize about having large blocks of time in which to court our creative muses, often this isn’t an option. Finding or making time to write on a regular basis can be challenging, especially as the holidays roll around. With planning, shopping, and family get-togethers front and center, writing time can easily slip away. Dr. Suzanna Henshon, the author of several novels and books on writing exercises, recently offered some strategies for keeping your creative juices brewing even when time is scarce.
Rethink your schedule: If you take a close look at your day, it’s more than likely that you can squeeze a little more writing time here and there. One possibility: cutting down the amount of time spent checking email and on social media. This tends to be a black hole. Some writers check it only times daily on a regular schedule: Once in the morning, once after lunch, and once at the end of the day. This structured approach often frees up valuable time.
Give yourself 10-minute mini-sessions: Some fitness advertisers tout the advantages of exercising for 10-minute intervals several times a day. Why not borrow this approach? You can “trick yourself into finding writing time” by just pulling out a pen and letting your thoughts flow for ten minutes at a time throughout the day. If you manage to find three 10-minute slots in a day, you’ll have snagged half-an-hour of writing time. Over five days in a week, that adds up to 2-1/2 hours; over six, days, you’ll have put in 3 hours.
Take 15-minute creativity breaks: When you find your attention lagging on a project unrelated to writing, why not give yourself a short creativity break and focus on your writing for 15 minutes or so, then return to the project at hand. You may find yourself refreshed and energized.
Take advantage of in-between times: If you’re waiting for a doctor’s appointment or picking up a prescription or even watching a sports event, have a paper and pen handy. You can jot down a couple of ideas, make a list of scenes you need to fix or capture colorful bits of conversation you hear. Even quick moments like these can prove fruitful when you have more time to develop them.
Use prompts: If your time is limited, you can still exercise your writing muscles by writing to a prompt, just as you might in a workshop. This technique can be both fun and revealing. Even if you write only a paragraph or two, it can give your creativity a lift and perhaps even spotlight a great idea that’s been simmering below the surface.
The real goal here is to find a way to write on a consistent basis: The more often you write, the more you’ll accomplish and the better you’ll feel about nurturing your creative life. Write on!