Making Time to Write
By Jen Cornick
Photo by Keira Burton at Pexels
September is here! Which means lives are busy. As school starts and workplaces come back from vacation slow-downs, writers struggle increasingly to find the time to sit down and write. Busy lives mean busy days filled with school pick-ups, grocery lists, and the dreaded weeknight dinner question. And then when it is all over, when the work is done and the house is finally quiet, exhaustion settles in. Making a streaming service and the sofa the most amazing plan in the world.
Another day gone and no writing was accomplished.
So, how do some writers manage to do it all?
Phil Earle, award-winning author of When the Sky Falls, once told Sunday Writers’ Club that he wrote on the bus on his commute to and from work at a publisher’s offices in London. It was time he found in his day and then dedicated it to writing.
It must have seemed difficult at first, writing next to a young woman who was trying to shush a teething baby or an older man yelling into his cell phone because he couldn’t hear over the roar of the bus engines. But in the end, he managed it. Writing a whole novel on his way into work every day.
However, not all writers are so lucky as to have a bus or a train route which takes them into their office. Transportation infrastructure isn’t the same everywhere and some people have to drive themselves into work. And while they can listen to podcasts or audio books about writing it still doesn’t count as words on the page.
And by the time the banking is done, a cursory amount of time spent at the gym, and the garden watered it feels like the day has completely slipped away. Keith Gray, award-winning author of The Climbers and one of the founders of Sunday Writers’ Club, and his co-founder Paul Malone, often suggest writing on sticky notes. Fill a small sticky note, it doesn’t take long. Only a few minutes to have enough words. And then write another the next day and the next, until those few minutes become a half an hour and a larger sticky note. And as the minutes accumulate so does the story – each new, bright yellow bit of paper an exciting event stuck to the wall. It is tangible and real. Right there, on the wall.
But the pressure to go paperless in some offices is intense and lunch times are taken up by seminars, mandatory training, and meetings that couldn’t be fit in anywhere else. And when the day at the office ends, the dog needs walking, the recycling needs to be sorted, and the coffee maker has to be set up for the morning. The minutes on the clock tick by and still, no time for words on the page.
Jenn Ashworth, author of Ghosted and a professor of writing at Lancaster University, once said that writers need a plan. Not necessarily a plan like Joanna Nadin has for her novels but a plan for what to do in the time available. If she knows she has fifteen minutes waiting in line, then she decides what she wants to write and puts all the words in the notes app on her phone. For her, sometimes running spell check counts as words on a page if she has had a particularly busy day. Writers do have to be kind to themselves on some of the more difficult days.
But the meeting didn’t go well, the stress of the yearly physical is wearing, and the constant wondering if a master’s program would be a benefit has writers everywhere wanting to impersonate Sandra Bullock in The Lost City. A bath with a glass of chardonnay, hoping to block out the entirety of the world for a few moments or an hour. And sometimes that has to be okay too. And so, while no new words made it on to the page, it can be a bit refreshing to just take time.
And then there are weeks when a writer genuinely doesn’t have time to carve out a writing practice, whether it is on the bus, in line at the bank, or sticky notes at lunch. And that is where Sunday Writers’ Club can help writers take an hour on a Sunday to write new words for more stories, to refresh inspiration with our collections of prompts, or meet other writers and support each other through the struggles of writing. And if an extra boost is needed during the week, we have accountability threads in our discord server to help keep writers going.
So, come, join us for a Sunday. We can give you time.
Sunday Writers' Club Committee Member
Reading is not my hobby, I am pretty sure it forms a vital part of my autonomic nervous system. I am never without a book and I will read anything, including cereal boxes. My journalism has appeared in Metropole: Vienna In English, Impact Hub Vienna, Ted x Vienna, and the EU Observer.
Find out more about Jennifer by visiting her blog: The Curiosity Cabinet
At the beginning of your piece you describe my average day beautifully. After everything is done, there is often no more time…