Writing Through Distractions – Coronavirus Edition

Yesterday, I recorded a forthcoming podcast interview for the delightful Carrie Jones–among other things, we discussed how I got started writing full-time (it involved an incredible amount of family support).

There’s truly nothing more delicious than long, multi-hour writing sessions. Something I got to indulge in on a regular basis while I was drafting my earliest manuscripts. But what if you’ve got to balance writing and an outside job? Or two outside jobs? Or a family? How do you carve out writing time while everyone is home during the Coronavirus outbreak?

I’ve learned how to keep going in the busiest of times–maybe a book’s just released, and I’m doing a ton of virtual visits, or I’m traveling with my brother for his business, or I get a new puppy (like I did last fall). I’ve discovered several techniques that keep projects rolling:

Every Minute Counts

Sometimes, you have to write in bursts. Don’t discount ten minute writing sessions. Granted, this does tend to work best when you’re drafting. But I’ve thumbed a ton of chapters into my phone while waiting in line, or riding in a car’s backseat, or even during lunch.

Get Up an Hour Early, Stay Up an Hour Late

I do much better with staying up late (I’m becoming less and less of a morning person the older I get). But an hour of uninterrupted time can be carved out of the first or last hour of the day. In my house, these are the quietest hours. It’s a great time to draft or revise, either one. I know I usually do my best revising when it’s quiet. Those last-hour-of-the-day revision sessions have become some of my favorites.

Don’t Get Attached to One Device

To take advantage of tiny writing bursts in strange settings (you can wind up in the wackiest places in the house trying to get away from noisy family members!), you obviously can’t be glued to your desktop. I already mentioned writing on a phone. Notebooks work, too. And don’t discount dictation–I recently dictated an entire book in one-hour bursts. Dictation means being able to write while cooking or walking on the treadmill.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Revision or drafting in tiny chunks of time absolutely requires a plan. You need to know exactly what you want to write about beforehand. If you don’t, you spend your ten minute writing bursts just trying to figure out what you want to say. Outlines and notes are utterly essential. You’ll find yourself spending plenty of your ten minute bursts doing nothing but planning for future sessions!

Don’t Punish Yourself

Writing a book happens sentence by sentence. Don’t worry if you feel like you’re making minuscule progress–it’s progress.

Look, the thing is, I truly believe that all writers get there eventually, in their own ways. So keep at it. Even when it seems like there aren’t enough hours, even when you find yourself barely getting a single paragraph written in a day. Don’t stop. It can absolutely be done. And you can do it.

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