Holiday Writing - Finding Time to Write

I’ve known some writers who have tons more time to write during holidays, but the majority of writers I know have less time. Many of them just accept the fact that they’re not going to be able to keep up their daily word count goals.

But for me, after battling several bouts of writer’s block over the past few years, now that I’ve maintained a steady discipline of writing every day for a few months, I don’t want to break that streak. Part of me is afraid I won’t be able to regain my daily writing discipline after the holiday season. I just don’t want to lose the momentum.

I’ve never really thought of myself as a perfectionist, but I’m realizing that I depend heavily on certain comforts around me when I write. I enjoy writing at my desk with my big monitor, with a blanket on my legs and surrounded by shelves of my book collection, a carafe of tea next to me. I usually have a nice big chunk of time available to write so I can build up my words-per-hour momentum and really increase my word count.

But during the holiday season, many times I’ll only have a few minutes here and there where I am not busy and can write, and it’s usually not at my computer. It’s never a huge chunk of time, and I’m not in a comfy chair or surrounded by the comforting things in my office that soothe me.

So I’ve had to let go of the idea that I can only write when everything is “perfect.”

I’ve taken my writing mobile this Christmas week more than I ever have before. It absolutely kills me how inefficient it is, but I have written on a simple note-taking app on my phone by thumb-typing. It takes me so much longer than typing on my computer (since I touch type) and I get only a fraction of words down in the time I have, but I’m at least getting some words down.

I haven’t done this yet, but I’m going to do this tomorrow—writing with a pen and pad of paper. I think it might be about as fast as my thumb-typing, and somehow, taking a few minutes to write a few lines on a pad of paper has always been easier for me than whipping out my phone to write a few lines. It might be because of the tactile feel of the pen, but usually I can gather my thoughts and get into the frame of mind to write fiction faster when I pull out a pad of paper than when I pull out my phone.

I have been trying to find places where there’s no one around to hear me so that I can dictate my fiction into a voice recording app on my phone. The sound quality is not good enough for Dragon NaturallySpeaking to be able to transcribe, so I end up practically transcribing it myself when I run it through my Dragon software. Again, it’s incredibly inefficient, especially since I have to take the time later to correct all the errors in the transcription, but at least it’s a few words down that I otherwise wouldn’t write since I’m not at my computer. But alone time (where there’s no one around to hear me) during this season is pretty hard, so I haven’t had many opportunities to do this. I’ve mostly stuck to thumb-typing on my phone instead.

Years ago, when I had been starting to get serious about my writing and had been working full-time in biology work, I’d found ways to utilize these small pockets of time, but they were limited to things like writing on a pad of paper while waiting for the cell-counter to do its thing (I couldn’t take my phone into the lab most of the time), or writing at my desk during lunch hour. Since then, I’ve worked hard to become more productive and more efficient at writing, and so being inefficient irritates me to no end.

But I realized that when you’re so busy that you have to steal a few writing minutes from your day, efficiency isn’t a priority—just getting words down is your priority. It’s something I’ve forgotten since those days when I was writing while holding down a full-time job.

If you have any more ideas for writing in small pockets of time, please do comment to let me know. I know many of you are writers holding down a full-time job (and I include stay-at-home mothers in that), and so you have to snatch writing time throughout your day all the time.

And if you are one of those writers and struggling to get words down, don’t be like me and think that you can only write when the environment and situation is ideal. Your book can be written even if you have to thumb-type it or write it on a pad of paper. No matter how ugly the way it’s done, get those words down! I will, too!