Part 2: Hiding Out
Even when you’ve been bitten by the writing bug and have no issues with coming up with ideas or wrestling with writer’s block, it’s still a challenge to find the time to sit down and write. Last month in Part 1, I posted about how I’d turned my commute by train into a daily rolling writers’ retreat, and suggested a few places to look for hidden pockets of time in your own schedule that you can use for writing.
Part 2 is about finding bigger chunks of time—an hour, two hours, half a day to devote to writing. Where can these come from?
- For me, big chunks of time mainly happen on weekends and some evenings.
- For you, chunks of time may occur while your children are out of the house—in school, at camp, on an outing with your spouse, away for the weekend visiting grandparents.
- If you work irregular hours at your day job, look for writing time on your days off, and even in your hours off. If your job starts 2 PM, you have up to six hours to write even if you sleep until 8 AM.
- If you’re in school, plan ahead to write on holidays or breaks.
- If you’re home with small children, consider hiring a young teenager to play with them after school a couple of days a week while you write. Young sitters are affordable, you’re still there in case of emergencies, and your children have the complete attention of a cool, older kid.
But really, this post is more about WHERE to write, than WHEN to write. Because I’ve learned the hard way that big chunks of time can quickly evaporate without prior planning.
The Lure of Distractions
I love my family. I like spending time with them, they believe in me, and they all support my writing habit. They even understand it, since they write, too. That doesn’t mean that they leave me alone to write. To be fair, writing doesn’t look any different from scrolling through other writers’ blogs or checking email, activities where I’m happy to be interrupted to taste something fresh out of the oven or look at wildlife in the woods. So when they stop by I get up, enjoy the moment—and am taken out of the story, derailed from my train of thought.
And it’s not just family. Even if I lived alone, there’d be the guilt-inducing pull of never-ending housework, or the siren call of beautiful weather after being cooped up in an office building all week, or a book I’ve been meaning to read, or…
Honestly? Sometimes just the CHANCE that I could be interrupted or distracted is enough to keep me from settling in for a good, long writing session.
The Disappearing Act
Time for the Disappearing Act. Physically removing yourself from interruptions and distractions whenever possible can do wonders for word counts.
Here’s where I went this past Saturday:
Writing at the library has several benefits.
- It’s quiet: even when other patrons talk, they know they shouldn’t, and they quiet down or leave when I give them the hairy eyeball.
- It’s supportive, in that there are other people similarly focused on their work sitting in silence nearby.
- The environment is simple: I have only what I bring, so distractions are minimal.
Of course, I’m surrounded by books in the library, but sitting in the Chinese and Russian section reduces the temptation to grab something off the shelf. And the library has free WiFi, but putting the laptop in airplane mode keeps me from checking email or social media.
Getting to the library isn’t always practical. But I’ve found that going to an unexpected corner of the house is also effective: a guest room, a side porch, the playroom. Your home may have different options: a basement, the roof of an apartment building, the laundry room, over the garage. You can go sit in your parked car if the weather allows it. (Joyce Zarins tells me that Andre Dubus III has done this.) Being anywhere that people won’t think to look for you will reduce interruptions.
When can you find chunks of writing time? Does it help you to hide out while you’re writing?
Finding Time to Write: Part 1, by Marianne Knowles
Finding Time to Write: Part 3, by Marianne Knowles
Are Distractions Derailing Your Wri–Wait, Did I Pick Up Milk at the Store? by Heather Fenton
Image credits: Pocket-watches, Pixabay Quiet study area at Memorial Hall Library, M.Knowles
Great post, Marianne! Even during the school day when the kids are out of the house, I like to move around to avoid monotony, or just a sore tailbone. I take my laptop from my desk to the couch, the kitchen table, and back to my desk again. It mixes things up a bit and keeps me from going stir crazy. Like you, I get derailed when the family is around, and sometimes it’s okay to just cave in. (I work too much, so for me, these interruptions are a good prod to take a break.) Thanks for sharing, and getting me to reflect on my own writing schedule.
And I suppose that’s why I get such concentrated writing done in a plane or moving car (going back to Finding Time to Write: Part 1), there’s no internet there either! Thanks for your thoughtful post, Marianne.
Marianne I find chunks of time differs when I am writing a draft I find time in the early morning is best. But for editing, it feels slow and I need real quiet to think things through. So night time is my friend when all the kids are asleep. Now if I had a serious deadline I’m not sure how I would deal with it. Loved the post thank you.
Good point, Kath. It definitely makes a difference what you’re trying to do, as to how much time you need and what conditions work for doing it. Thanks for stopping by.
Great post, Marianne! I’m still figuring out how to find a place when I won’t be found by my gang 🙂 I probably do need to actually leave the house….
Hmm. Your house is fairly large but so is your family! Yes, probably getting out is a good idea. Not that it’s easy to do…
I agree, the internet is my biggest distraction, too. When I really need to crunch, I bring a hard copy of my WIP to a local library and add in sections and corrections in longhand. Another nice post!
Great point. When I’m thinking, rather than writing, I tend to work on paper. So sometimes that works! Thanks for stopping by, Marcia
Thanks, Jen! Yes even with the laptop in airplane mode there is that pesky phone. I put off getting one as long as I could. Last Saturday I buried it behind three zippers (one backpack, two in the purse. That helped!
Great post, Marianne! For me the bigger distraction is the internet, which is conveniently attached to the laptop I need for writing! I’ve had to seek out writing spots that don’t have wifi and/or install blocking programs on my computer so I can write distraction-free. Of course, then my smartphone is just in my purse and I get Twitter on there too, so…