by Julie Glover
“I need to write!” How often do I say that to myself? How often do you say that to yourself?
It can be a challenge to find the time, space, and motivation to write. Let’s tackle each of those and address getting what we need to write regularly.
“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” – Virginia Woolf
I had that quote pinned up in my old office, right up until my husband moved his own desk in there, followed by my then-children taking up a third desk. Even then, I had the space to myself while they worked and went to school, though it was everyone’s hangout evenings, weekends, and holidays. Then my kids grew up and moved out, but my husband remained…and retired. So much for having weekdays to myself.
Fast forward a couple of years, and we moved. At first, my hubby had planned to share an office with me again, but through a series of events, the second bedroom has ended up being that “room of her own.” And I’m already getting more done. Not because my family had tried to make my life less productive—they were actually pretty good about letting me work. But having a quiet, dedicated space to myself is what I need to write regularly and productively.
Other authors need people around or background noise, perhaps writing in coffee shops or with the quiet murmurs of their local library. Some write reclined on sofas, and others need ergonomic desk furniture. Some want to be outside or with sunlight streaming through windows, and others want no windows so that they can block out the world.
Whatever you need is fine, but I wish I’d known a few things about a writing space years ago:
If you want to be a writer—stop talking about it and sit down and write! – Jackie Collins
Easier said than done, Jackie. I typed “finding time to write” into the Google search engine and got back approximately 1,090,000,000 results. That’s over one billion hits! So obviously, finding writing time is a struggle for lots of folks.
For one thing, most authors don’t make a living solely writing books, so they often have work of another kind to complete. Then there are the daily tasks one must take care of, with oneself and significant others, children, etc. On top of that, there’s Life, which can throw fastballs, curveballs, and spitballs at you from time to time.
Not surprisingly, the number one slice of advice I hear about this topic is: Protect Your Writing Time.
But what does that look like? Well, like writing space, it looks different for different writers. Some can write on their phone standing in line at the grocery store while others need large blocks of time set aside to get deep into a scene. How big a fortress you need to protect your writing time is up to you and your personality.
Here on WITS, though, there’s plenty of wisdom about finding time to write. Just a few of those posts are:
What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure. – Samuel Johnson
Everyone who has an idea for a book does not write a book. Everyone who starts a book does not finish a book. Everyone who finishes a book does not edit that book to publication quality.
In summary, it’s hard to write a good book. You have to get motivated and stay motivated.
Personally, I’m great about starting. I have more ideas than I know what to do with, and writing an opening scene delights me to no end. But a writing career is not made of good starts. I have to find ways to keep myself going on the book I’m on, even when I want to say, “Ugh, forget this project. I want to play with that other new, shiny idea!”
Once again, we vary in what motivates us to write. To begin with, some love writing for the process, and others better appreciate the finished product.
But here are a few ideas of what might help you find and maintain your motivation to write:
I originally titled this post What Do You Need to Write? But after a bit of mulling, I added the word “Regularly.” Because that’s what will get books written, edited, and published.
You need space, time, and motivation to write consistently. What each of those entails for you depends on you. But I firmly believe that we won’t get the space, time, and motivation we need unless we consider each intentionally and pursue what helps us produce our best work.
What do you currently lack to be able to write regularly? Do you have any plans to achieve that goal?
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Julie Glover is an award-winning author of mysteries and young adult fiction. She also writes supernatural suspense under the pen name Jules Lynn.
Her most recent release is My Team's Fairy Godmother, the fourth of five YA paranormal short stories.
When not writing, she collects boots, practices rampant sarcasm, and advocates for good grammar and the addition of the interrobang as a much-needed punctuation mark.
Photo credit: StartupStockPhotos and kaboompics from Pixabay
Copyright © 2023 Writers In The Storm - All Rights Reserved
I honestly think that just writing every day, regardless of what those words are or how many they write, is priceless. And the first step. Without a regular writing habit, none of the writing tips we are flooded with will help. And I often tell writers in this writing group I run that just doing a daily journaling habit in a notebook is much more valuable than they can ever imagine. Doesn't have to be their deepest thoughts or amazing verbiage. The point is to get into the habit of writing daily, or near daily. And for the writer to be gentle with themselves. Don't judge themselves on the number of words they wrote that day or the quality of the writing. Because when we start to pick ourselves apart, the rest of it all just unravels and we end up not writing at all because we can't stand our self-hatred, something many writers struggle with. And it is amazing how even just a short daily journaling habit can end up getting the creative juices flowing and lead to bigger ideas!
I write a lot in my "day job" and sometimes this makes me avoid writing for non-work / pleasure - if you see what I mean?!
I do really want to write (for me) daily but at the mo am only managing about 3-4 times a week. I have enjoyed your comment and plan to remind myself to be a bit kinder to myself - you have summed me up!
Thanks! Yes, self-compassion (in all aspects, not just writing) is my lifelong journey. It has helped so much. I can only imagine you having to write all day, then come home and be too burned out to do any writing for yourself! Very frustrating! You have a great deal on your plate! Yet, another reason to be gentle with yourself and your writing practice!
Cindy, I totally agree that we need to form habits and practice to be good writers.
But honestly, I'm not sure "write every day" should be every author's goal. Some just cannot do that, and telling them they must can create unnecessary guilt. Plus, there are plenty of successful authors who write in concentrated spurts and then take total breaks in between books. (A really great read on the habits of various authors is Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors by Stodola.)
"Doing something related to writing every day" has become more of my goal than actually writing. That might involve thinking about my characters or doing some book research or what-have-you, but I don't write every single day.
Well, I think I was envisioning a journaling practice, something along the lines of the "Morning Pages" idea. If I do no other writing that day, I usually am able to do one page of journaling, if nothing else. I honestly think journaling frequently can help any writer a great deal. There are so many benefits to your writing (and to your mental health) that they are too numerous to list here. I agree that we shouldn't put pressures on writers and suspect I considering the daily journaling practice to be included in that writing effort.
I'm fortunate in that I've had my own writing space for a long time. It wasn't a terribly productive space at first, but I have learned, continue to learn, what makes me the most productive. But it's not a terribly ergonomic space, so I am in the process of cleaning out my office in order to install a new sit-stand desk and a new configuration of bookcases, filing cabinets, etc. Hopefully that change, though slow in coming, will help me be a healthier writer as well as a more productive one.
I love the idea of making sure it's a space that promotes your health too! Very important goal. Hope you enjoy the standing desk. That's on my wish list too.
My office makes me happy. Just coming into it, I feel more relaxed and productive. Thank you for this great post, Julie!
Wonderful! We're building a house (which won't be ready for a while), so I've been doing a lot of thinking about how to make my office that kind of space.
Was hoping to have my own office since the older two moved out... but omicron brought my husband back to working from home.
I've got to figure something out, and I'm the only one who can do that.
Yeah, this pandemic has made it particularly difficult for some to have a productive workspace. Hang in there!
I have found having my own little space has made a real difference, it still feels like a bit of a treat to take myself off and write, or read - about writing!
I'm like that too! Even if it's small space, I need it to be my own.
I have come to realize that one of the things holding me back from a regular writing schedule is having a regular writing space. I have a chair. And an ottoman. Everything else about my writing life is mobile -- my laptop, my files, my calendars and notes. I try to just have my writing live inside my computer, but it would be really really great to have a big whiteboard on my wall. And have my writing books on a bookshelf nearby.
I used to make time every day to write. At least 30 minutes, but preferably an hour. But that was when my son was still napping, my step-son was in school, and my husband was working a regular-hours job. . . Oh, and I was a stay at home mom, so I had what I lack now. . . TIME. Finding time is my biggest problem. And when I have the time, I lack motivation to once again sit on my butt with my face lit by the glow of a computer screen when there are other active things I could be doing.
I also don't have a dedicated space. Since the pandemic started, my work computer has taken over my desk, leaving no room to work comfortably on my personal one. (And we won't talk about hoe my husband commandeers my Mac as if it were his.)
It's funny you mentioned smudging because my sage sits on my desk, along with other ritualistic items used for clearing a space. And my shaman told me last week to start writing. She said "Spirit is practically yelling at you to write, so go write."