The Power of Focused Creativity

When I was in college, I dreamed of the day that I would be graduated, published, and making enough money off of my books that I could just spend all day writing and be so productive all the time.

But an interesting thing happened. There were a few months in my life where writing was pretty much my sole focus and priority, and you know what?

I wasn’t really that productive.

Now, I have a little girl with another on the way, and I teach piano. Those two things alone take up a lot of time, and when you throw in all the other little life things that turn up from day to day, things can get pretty busy. Yet I’m just about a month away from publishing my second novel.

People ask often how I have time to write. As any writer will tell you, it’s all a question of priorities; but I’ve also found that writing does not take as much time as I used to think.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve put hundreds of hours into writing, editing, and designing my novels. I can’t even begin to estimate a ballpark range of how long it’s taken me to get my books from an idea to a solid, tangible paperback.

But the thing is, those hundreds of hours don’t have to come in eight-hour-a-day increments. For me, I have maybe an hour in the afternoon to work while Scout naps, plus a couple of hours in the evening after she goes to bed. That means I generally have three hours a day, tops, in which to work. With other things in life and occasional lack of motivation (gasp!), it’s probably a better estimate to say I work for an hour or two daily on writing and writing-related things, including this blog.

But because my window of opportunity is so narrow, I wring the life out of those precious hours. I cut off social media (unless I’m social-media-ing for my books), plant my butt in my office chair in the farthest corner of the house, and get to work.

For me, this limited amount of time to work actually increases the quality of my writing. I know I don’t have long, so I’m focused, and I don’t work long enough to start going cross-eyed at the screen. My word count (when I’m counting such things) is just as high as it ever was when I had all day to procrastinate writing.

Moral of the story? Yes, it’s hard to write when you have a day job or kids or a million other things you could be doing instead; but if it’s important enough to you, if you’re willing to suck the marrow out of the small chunks of time you do have, that’s enough. You can do great things, and you will. Just keep getting those words down on the page.

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you write in small chunks of time, or sit and pour out words for ten hours straight?

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