7 Tips to Stay Sane(ish) When You Can't Write!

"Writing, at its best, is a lonely life"
- Ernest Hemingway
Yesterday I spent a part of the day at a book-signing. It's not an unpleasant way to wile away a few hours on a Saturday ... I sold some books, hung out with people who love books and writing and writers, and answered questions about my books and myself and writing.

The whole time though, I had this feeling of cheating, lazing about, almost of dishonesty ... writers write, and I wasn't writing during a perfectly good chunk of time when nothing absolutely necessary was getting done.

It's been said a million times, in a million different ways, by a million different people ... the best way to be a writer is to write.

I agree, but have found that despite my best efforts there are days (sometimes even weeks!) in which I am unable to write ... for various reasons.

My 'other' job, as a teacher, takes a tremendous amount of time and energy and focus (hereafter referred to as TEF), especially at the beginning of the school year.

My responsibilities as a father and husband and son and brother and friend also take a slice of my TEF.

A seemingly huge portion of my leftover TEF ends up being devoted to marketing and promotion of my writing, which translates into time that cannot be spent ... actually writing.

I'd love for my life as a writer to be more (in Ernest's words) lonely, but that's not likely to happen in the short term.

I'm reasonably comfortable with the fact that I cannot devote as much TEF to writing as I'd like to (I dream of the day when I don't have to jealously guard and hoard it to get my writing done ... who doesn't?), but I've come up with some ways to let my writing brain get some work done even when I can't actually be writing.

7 Tips for Writers ... When They Don't Have Time to Write!
  1. Send yourself emails - I know, it sounds stupid, but I send myself emails about writing every day while I'm at work, and dump them into an ideas folder.
  2. Keep some business cards in your pocket - I don't like to carry pens/pencils around, and everyone else always does (so I can borrow theirs); a business card is the perfect size to fit in any pocket and I jot down a few ideas whenever I can't send myself an email.
  3. Tell a friend - I tell my wife or co-workers or son a few keywords pertaining to an idea that I've had, and that they need to tell me about it later ... their memory is often better than mine with this sort of thing.
  4. Keep a pen handy - I know this sounds like a refutation of tip#2, but it's not ... keep a pen by the bed, by your favored reading chair, in the bathroom, and in the car (along with some business cards or post-it notes) ... you never know when an idea will come, and you shouldn't count on holding on to it all day without help.
  5. Google - when I don't have time to write, but have a minute or seven between classes or lunch or family stuff, I google for maps, research, names, news ... anything and everything that might help, or be useful, later when I can write (then I save/email the good stuff).
  6. Take a walk - it may not seem like writing, but taking a walk gets moves me around the planet a bit (and you too, I assume, unless you walk on a treadmill), and gets oxygen flowing, and sometimes I'll see something, or think of something, that can help advance my current work in progress.
  7. Read - you should always have a book (or a bunch of books) with you for anticipated/unanticipated downtime ... not only do writers write, but they must also read!
These seven tips should help you keep the ball rolling (and your sanity mostly intact) even when you don't have the necessary TEF to write.

Good Luck!


No comments: