It’s really easy for many successful writers to give you advice. “You just have to schedule time in your day to write, then stick to it,” they say. That’s easy for them to say… they don’t have a 9 to 5 job, three kids, wrestling practice, volley ball, the PTA meeting and spouse that lives at the office! I know… I have been there! But with all the things you have going on at home, you have to be creative. Lets talk about how you might juggle all of this and still be able to write.
You are a wealth of ideas.
OK, we have already established that you are a busy person. When I wrote my first book I had two four-year old boys attached to me all day long. You have to have a way to quickly save your ideas. If the book you want to write has any children in it, think of what you are exposed to everyday. I used my cell phone recorder, and when I say something that caught my attention, I quickly recorded it.
I remember exactly when I created a main character in one of my books. It was December 23, 2010, and my son Alexander was getting on my last nerve. I grabbed him and said “I am going to tell Santa Clause how bad you are!” He opened his eyes wide and asked “Daddy… do you know Santa?” Looking at him sternly, and said “Yes, I talk to him all the time.” Then Alexander slowly shook his head and replied… “If you love me, you will tell him that I am a good boy!” Where else could you get this stuff?
Pay attention to everything!
The world we live in is a crazy place. I never ran out of ideas once I started paying attention. Once I was in the checkout line at the grocery store, and that lady in front of me was counting out pennies. We all have been there before… so I tried to ignore what was happening and I look at the sales rack next to me. There, in a tabloid paper was a picture of a man holding his backside with the caption “My wife shot me in my rear end!” Now, as ridiculous as tabloid magazines are, this gave me an idea. I quickly recorded the idea on my phone so I wouldn’t forget it, and later that night I used that idea in one of my detective stories. If I wasn’t behind that lady with all her pennies, I would have missed it.
There are also lots of times when you are writing that you might get stuck on an event. I was looking for an unlikely partner for my main character… someone like Barney Fife or Gethro Clampit. I was really stuck, and thought I was going to have to start over again. But then as my kids were watching a show on TV, I say a commercial that saved me. There was a very awkward girl, about 16 years old with bad skin and a Smart alec mouth giving her mom a hard time. I remember smiling and saying to myself “What a pain she must be to live with!” Then it dawned on me… I had the perfect partner!
Where is the stuff to write with…
One day, in all of my disorganization, I tried to find a couple minutes to write. When my son David asked me what I was doing, I was a bit frustrated and told him “I need to write!” Then, trying to help me, he said “But Daddy, where is your stuff to write with?” After pondering that question for a moment, I realized something. As scarce as finding time to write would be, I would need to have a place ready to go when I FINALLY got those five minutes to myself. So, I decided on a certain chair by the window that most people ignored. This chair was perfect because it was far from the TV, but I could still watch the kids. One of the best things about this spot was that there was a wonderful window overlooking the neighborhood that I could gaze out of while thinking. Yes, This was my spot!
Now that I had my spot, I needed my stuff to write with. There was shelf close by that was too high for the children to reach, so that became my writing stuff place. I put my laptop on the shelf with it’s charger, so I could grab it quickly. Next to it was a writing pad and several pencils and pens, just in case I didn’t have enough time to fiddle with the computer. Lastly was a small tray with two thumb drives for me to save my work on.
When you do finally get a couple minutes to yourself, remember… Never… NEVER forget to save your work! I learned this that hard way as way. I had just finished the first two chapters of “My Navy,” and I was quite proud of myself. I set my computer on the table and went in to make myself a well-deserved cup of tea. While I was gone, Alexander (sigh) started typing “like daddy does” and everything I had written was gone! I wanted to strangle him, but we all know that it was my fault, not the four-year olds’. Please save your work on a thumb drive, and save it often.
So, now can I start writing?
Yes. You have your own special writing place, and it’s a place that nobody else wants because you can’t see the TV from there! You have your shelf with all your stuff, and now you are ready. The kids are in the play room coloring, and everyone seems to me content. Finally, you reach for your computer and… (sigh)… you notice it’s time to start dinner. Oh well… When you do have a minute, you are ready to write. You now know how to write with all your wonderful distractions.
The kids are in bed, and your spouse just fell asleep on the couch. You quietly pour yourself a nice glass of wine and have a seat in your writing chair. Now, it’s your time to write. See you between the pages…