Back in October, I think I put many readers in a tailspin over how I manage to run a large farm, and the joys of when things don’t go your way. This month, (on the advice of our fearless leader, Kat) I’ll tell you how I do manage to get words on “paper” when there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. Without further ado, let’s get to it:
1. Be fluid. Farming for the most part isn’t a set job. One day I may be working in the fields, another, in the house making cheese. The key to making time is thinking like a chess master. You have to think four to five steps ahead of what you’re currently doing in order to find a few minutes here and there to sit down at the computer.
2. Be mobile. I used to keep a small pad of paper up at the barn, and when a great idea or random thought hit me, I’d grab that dusty pad and jot it down. Now, I’ve joined the world of technology and my smart phone has a notes app. I may be milking a goat and writing a synopsis for a new book or maybe a few lines of poetry.
3. Be spontaneous. This goes hand in hand with #2. When an idea hits you, write it down! If you have two or three spare minutes and you can get that thought (complete or not) into or onto some sort of media, do it. I wrote the best song lyrics while stuck in the barn riding out the remnants of a hurricane. Granted the storm cell blew over in a very short matter of time, but it gave me a few precious minutes to write when I otherwise would be doing nothing.
4. Be flexible. I used to try and write at a certain time of the day. Well, when you have animals (some of which are occasionally sick) you find yourself providing care at all hours. My precious writing time might be taken up with doctoring a sick duck. So I’ve had to learn writing is something that gets done when I have no other chores or tasks. On the farm, everything comes before you: the animals eat before you, they get cared for before you, and they take precedence over everything you do. To some, this may sound completely ludicrous, but when you take on the responsibility of animals used for food production, their health and happiness comes before yours because they’re your paycheck.
5. Be patient. This is a hard one, and the opposite of #3. There’ve been many times I’ve had a solid urge to write and couldn’t because something needed to get done around the farm — like stacking two cords of firewood one morning. With both hands busy carting wood, I couldn’t take time to jot anything down. That’s where your memory comes into play. I had to keep that scene in my head for close to two hours before we finished and I could go back in the house and write. It wasn’t easy, and I lost some of the fantastic dialog I’d come up with.
6. Be steadfast, but be a rule breaker. Some folks set stringent goals for their daily writing. I tried for quite some time to write 1,000 words a day. It’s a great goal, and I accomplished a lot, but there were many days I was unable to write a single word. If you set a lofty goal and can’t keep it, don’t get upset, and don’t force yourself to be up late at night to get that word count. Sometimes I’ll take a few days away from a WIP in order to think about things. It’s perfectly okay. I won’t get writer’s block, and I won’t stop writing, I just need a break. On the contrary, I’ve found taking a few days will give me a fresh outlook and my writing seems to improve. In many cases, I’ll hammer out 2,000+ words a day for a few days after a nice break.
For many of us, writing is our lifeblood. It may never be a steady income, but it’s something we have to do. If I didn’t write, I’d probably go insane. It’s a huge part of who I am, and no matter what, I’ll try and make time to write. A few minutes here and there, and you’d be amazed what can be accomplished. So if you’re chronically busy like me, you need to think inside, outside, and all around that darned box to find those precious minutes to enjoy your craft.