If you can't find time to write while juggling a full-time job and family, your solution could be in what writer Tom Morrisey calls "stolen-time" writing or "writing in the margins."
Tom is a business writer who writes for clients like the Ford Motor Company. He writes novels, too. His latest novel, Turn Four, was published to rave reviews in February 2004 by HarperCollins Zondervan. Tom wrote about his stolen writing time in a post he made to the AlphaSmart Community Web site, at http://www1.alphasmart.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi
(The AlphaSmart is a fabulous, inexpensive laptop-computer alternative which many writers use.)
Here's an extract from the post which impressed me because it reveals exactly how to write in stolen moments:
I carried the AlphaSmart with me, literally everywhere during our day. With a laptop, this would be like walking around with a small dumbbell, but the AS3K is light enough that it was as effortless as carrying a book. Greenfield Village is full of historic buildings, and a brief look into each one is usually sufficient for me. I'd then retire to the building's porch, or to a park bench, glance at the “next” file on my AlphaSmart, and write. Our family would walk together to the next house, talk about what we'd seen, and the process would repeat. The “instant on” feature of the AlphaSmart let me write even when my “window” in which to do so was only 2-3 minutes long, and the daylight-visible screen let me work even when the only convenient place to perch was in full sunlight...
Yet, when I sent the day's work into the PC and counted my words, I found that I'd written better than 2,300 words – all in “stolen moments” of what would normally be idle time. And because I'd had time to reflect on and consider each scene before sitting down to write in these brief bursts, the work is going to require very little revision. In fact, the section that will require the most changes is the scene I wrote next to the fountain, where I wrote for about 25 minutes non-stop.
=> How to be a Five-Minute Writer --- be prepared
Writing in stolen moments takes a little planning. Firstly, you need to make your current writing projects portable in some way. Many writers write in paper notebooks. Others print out their work, and stuff the typescript into a folder or a bag, then write on the back of the typescript and on loose-leaf paper. Some writers prefer laptop computers, or the AlphaSmart. I love Palm handhelds; I've been using a Palm handheld computer to write wherever and whenever for many years.
Next, decide what you're going to work on. If you don't plan to work on Project X or Project Y, you'll spend five minutes doodling. Take along a couple of projects. If you don't feel like working on an article, you may feel like working on a short story. Some writers simply designate "spare" writing as brainstorming time, or journaling time.
I take along any project which I seem to have stalled on. I find that writing away from my office frees me up enough so that I can relax and find fresh angles in my work.
=> Be a confident Five-Minute Writer
As well as your preparation, you need to develop the right attitude. Relax. Don't make demands on yourself. Writing in public feels a bit odd the first few times you do it, after that, you no longer care. You simply get on with it. It's a good idea to tell yourself that as soon as you open your computer or your notebook, you'll start writing, even if it's only a letter to yourself about the project.
There you go. Now, what are you waiting for? Got five minutes? Get writing.
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