How do you find time to write? I, like every other writer, get this question all the time. It can stir up a mix of emotions. Guilt, because I don’t commit enough time to sitting down and WRITING. Confusion, because I sometimes question the motives of the asker: are they would-be writers who use this as an excuse not to pick up the pen? Frustration because sometimes it is very difficult, if not impossible, to squeeze writing time in between other commitments.
The truthful answer for me:t writing isn’t just sitting at the computer. It’s giving mental energy to my project. I do a great deal of mulling. If I toss the question “what if” into my brain, I’m amazed at what it can churn out.
When do I mull? Often when I’m driving. Mulling is much safer than talking or texting on the cell phone. And yes, if I come up with an idea that needs writing down, I do pull over.
Another excellent mulling time is when I’m exercising.
Case in point: I now wear a Fitbit on my wrist. Have you heard of these things? It measures how many steps I walk, my “activity” level, and even my sleep. It can be quite maddening, but it’s also useful. I’m competitive enough that I work HARD to get my allotted 10,000 steps in each day. I’ve mapped out a lovely, hilly neighborhood walk that’s two miles so, if the weather is good, Fitbit and I hit the streets.
But we’re not alone. I carry my Kindle, version number two. I’ve loaded my work-in-progress on it, and I activate the “Text to speech” feature. So rather than stepping to some high energy iPod music, I listen to the Kindle voice reading my words aloud. I move, I sweat, I mull. I stop to smell the flowers, but more frequently I pause because of the Kindle. “I skipped a word there. Better mark it.” I pause the narration (and my stride), type in a note, then continue.
“Cute dog in that yard. Hey, wasn’t that minor character Latino in the earlier chapter?” Pause, write note. “They sure are taking their time with this new construction. And wouldn’t here be a great place to work on some backstory?” I highlight the text. “You had to back up and replay that section twice. Your mind wondered. Why? BORING!” Make a note.
You get my drift.
Once I’m home, I take my sweaty self to the computer and either make the changes or note where they need to be made. I find this to be quality writing time because I’m immersed in the work. I’m not writing from a distance; I’m inside the story. I wonder if something different happens in my brain because of the workout. Do my creative neurons get juiced?
Besides the car and the workout routine, I have one more mulling place in my day: bed. I always read before going to sleep, but I try to reserve a little time for mulling. If I ponder my WIP immediately before dozing off, I may take the process into my dreams. While this may sound wacky to non-writers, I’ve dreamed about my characters and actually worked out plot bumps in dreamland. Sometimes our subconscious just wants to help. First thing in the morning, though, I have to write it down. Dreams are too easily forgotten.
When do you do your best mulling?