The Time Poor Writer
We all know the adage, write every day. But what happens when you’re so busy there’s no time for writing? Kali Anthony talks about connecting with your creativity.
This month it’s Nanowrimo. I love Nanowrimo. Some of my favourite stories to date have been written in that one crazy month of November. Even though I relish the masochistic torture of trying to write fifty thousand words in thirty days, this year I decided not to sign on the dotted line. It’s not that I didn’t want to, I simply couldn't.
Two months ago, I received a kind of promotion, which meant my workload increased exponentially. Whilst I had no doubt the workload would *eventually* settle down, those precious early morning hours when I usually wrote, were taken up with work. At night I’d get the kids to bed, and keep working. It was hugely stressful. I was (and am still) exhausted. There were stretches when I did not get my backside out of a seat for five hours.
This meant I had no time to write anything substantive. None. Nada. I know everyone says you’ve got to make time, but I had barely a jot spare that didn’t cut into my sleeping time (and I wasn’t sleeping well due to stress anyhow). But worse than that, I was so busy that my imaginary friends, those voices in my head of all of my characters, stopped talking. As always, I found that lack of communication with my inner world, quite terrifying.
When everyone else was gearing up for Nanowrimo, I sat there feeling defeated. What kind of a writer was I, if I wasn’t writing? If I couldn't even conjure up an idea? Tapping away on the keyboard, immersing myself in a fictional world is my path to some kind of sanity, and it feeds my soul. Even now, seeing everyone hit targets and posting snippets of their stories, I have a kind of immeasurable sadness that I’m not part of the crazy this year.
I began to feel guilty. And guilt is not the writer's friend.
So what to do to keep in touch or reconnect with your creativity and squash the guilt. Here are a few ideas…
Okay, okay. I know that people say you should you should stay off social media and you’ll all be saying if I have time for social media I have time to write, but stick with me here folks!
What I'm talking about here is not just the lack of time, but a complete lack of inspiration.
I couldn’t write anything fresh because my brain was a mush of work and problem solving that had nothing to do with creative shades of grey and everything to do with the black and white of business.
But being a visual sort of creature I thought looking at the boards for my current (unfinished stories) and my future projects might help get me into the groove of some story, any story. So I'd sit looking at the pictures, trying to force my imagination to kick-start.
I didn’t have long to do this, a ten minute snatch of time on the train or over a cup of tea at breakfast, but connecting with the visions for my characters has kept me in touch with them. And it’s worked. The ideas are slowly trickling back as I look at the pictures, which gives me hope that once I put fingers to keyboard again, the words will flow.
I find the editing brain works differently from the writing brain. The editing brain is more analytical. That suits me because being in work mode, I was all about analysis and not at all about emotion.
Again, a ten minute snatch of time here or there meant I could tinker with a story. Strangely enough being in work mode meant I was colder and more calculated about what worked and what didn’t. Thinking about the story over this time gave me ideas of major scene order changes I had to make, which I would never have thought of before.
It might not be a new story, but at least it’s forward movement.
Read Something/Something Different
I read, voraciously. It's my circuit breaker, reward and inspirational well. Great stories get my creativity working feverishly.
Recently, I haven't even been able to read, and anything I have read hasn't pushed my buttons. When this happens, I choose a story outside of my usual genre. Right now, it has me reading paranormal, particularly dystopian.
These stories pull me out of my head and into a world which is completely divorced from reality. It encourages my own flights of fantasy at the times I'm squarely rooted in the real world. I find when I get on the paranormal bent, it never fails to inspire me, even though I don't write paranormal.
Right now, I'm on a paranormal bender. And the ideas are coming back.
Read Something Great You've Written
At times like this, I'm liable to think I'll never have another creative idea and never write anything good, ever again.
When this happens, I go back to my completed, fully edited stories and read them from beginning to end. This isn't as egotistical as it sounds. My stories never fail to surprise me and serve as a reminder that I can write, do have good ideas, and this is simply a hiatus from which I'll recover quickly.
Look After Yourself
Last, but not least; make some time for yourself. Every creative person needs some mental silence. Time to do something just for you.
For me, it was dealing with eyebrows wilder than the Amazonian rainforet, with a ten minute session of reiki thrown in. Half an hour in total, and I felt a million dollars.
The world stopped for a brief moment, and allowed me to breathe.
So don't feel guilty if you're too busy. Take your time, take a breath. Celebrate other's achievements this Nanowrimo month and look after you. Don't forget, the words will return, better and brighter than ever.
Kali Anthony is an aspiring writer and editor for The Pink Heart Society. Follow Kali on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Are you too short on time to get even the every day stuff done? How do you prioritize the things that are most important to you? Let us know in the comments here, or on social media using #TimePoorWriter.