Wednesday, September 7, 2016

ISWG: Not Waiting for Lightning

Finding time to write. That is the question.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot—and not just because it’s the ISWG’s question of the month. As summer draws to a close, I know my life will get extremely busy soon. And there’s always the question of how am I going to squeeze in writing?

Often I think of my writing life in terms of Before and After. Before I took a class on writing a novel, I had one way of writing: the struck by lightning method. If an idea hit me over the head or I was inspired, I wrote. If it didn’t, I didn’t. I didn’t write every day. I didn’t usually revise my work. Stories often came to me fully formed. But I never got beyond chapter three of any novel I started.

Getting inspired--Before

 After that class, I took my writing more seriously, or maybe I should say, I took myself more seriously. I finally thought I could do this writer thing. Although I still sometimes write in fits and starts—I started doing something revolutionary to me at the time: I write even when I didn’t feel like it. 


And that made a huge difference.

Fast forward to now. I still struggle with finding time to write. Ideally, I write best during the day, but that’s not usually when I can write. I write at night when the house is quiet—and it’s rare that I have more than an hour altogether, so I’ve learned to do what I can with what I have. Even if I only have fifteen minutes—that’s something.

I don’t have a set word count, but if I’m drafting, I try to write one scene or if I’m editing, revise one scene or chapter. But I also count other things as my writing time. In my book (excuse the pun), research counts, even though I’m always anxious to get back to stringing words together.

I’ve also learned a lot from EAT THAT FROG (Brian Tracy). I try as much as possible to do the hard things first. I don’t watch a lot of TV. I keep my schedule simple, because if I’m running this way and that, I cannot write.

It’s hard writing at night. I’m often tired after a long day and just want to curl up and watch Netflix. Pulling out the computer, switching gears to open my document is like swimming against the tide.

But I’m always glad I did.

The strange thing about writing when you don’t feel like it is that only the first five minutes are hard. I usually have to bargain with myself. Just open the document and look at it. Just read what you wrote yesterday. Just revise that one paragraph. But I never stop at that. And when I’m through, I’m happy. Happier than I would’ve been if I had done nothing, waiting for lightning to strike. 

How do you find time to write in your busy day?

What is Insecure Writer's Support Group?

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG 

The awesome co-hosts for the September 7 posting of the IWSG will be C. Lee McKenzie, Rachel Pattison, Elizabeth Seckman, Stephanie Faris, Lori L MacLaughlin, and Elsie Amata! 

photo credit: 505 Blink of an Eye via photopin (license)


  1. Hi Jenni,
    So true about writing when you don't feel like it. When you get pass the first five minutes, you are into whatever you plan to write.
    Your are doing what is best for you and that is what is important at the moment.
    All the best.
    Shalom aleichem,

  2. Yes, just picking up the manuscript and reviewing a paragraph can get you right back in it. I try to just show up when I am supposed to write.

  3. You're right about those first five minutes being hard! I do the same thing - I tell myself to just write that scene, just spend twenty minutes on fixing those pages, etc - and it pretty much always turns into longer, turns me into a better and happier writer. :)

  4. You're right - it's just the first couple minutes that are a struggle.
    You have a plan together and know what to do, which is more than some people!

  5. You are great at scheduling time and writing whether you want to or not. Sometimes I have tried writing despite not wanting to... it doesn't always work for me. I need inspiration too. I probably should work at some of the creativity exercises to get myself going again. Thanks for the great ideas.

  6. I often think opening the document is the hardest thing we do. Once we're there, it's easier to get in the mindset to write, even if we weren't there before.

  7. I always feel so much better about myself as a writer if I can at least get in something for the day. It does add up!

  8. It's great that you take you found a way to get past chapter three. I'm usually too tired to write in the evenings. I envy writers who can.

  9. I think I've got a lot in common with you. I used to write stories- a million starts with no endings. But then I had a story to tell, and it's my own. The problem, like you, is finding the time when you don't really have any!

  10. Yes, the first five minutes are definitely the hardest. I try to make time to write every day, and then when lightning strikes, I'm ready. :) Way to go with your writing habits!

  11. I think you're totally right about the first five minutes. If I can just get *started* then the rest is (comparatively) easy. (Excellent post title, BTW)

    @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

  12. It is hard to do the hard things first! But with discipline, those hard things might not seem so hard when we keep working at them.

  13. I write when I'm not in the mood and I get into the flow of it. It feels good to have worked than done no writing at all.

  14. Aarrgg, I needed this reminder! So true, and so easy to ignore.