When you’re a writer who works full time and/or has tiny humans to care for, sitting down to write can be impossible.
You can go days without ever getting near your computer, let alone time to scribble a note on your phone or a scrap of paper. When you hit a rut like this, it feels like you’ll never make progress again, and you’re scared your muse will pack up and leave, sick of waiting for you to show up.
On days, weeks, months—even years—like this, the only hope of creating anything that resembles a sentence is with incidental writing, aka, slotting in writing whenever and wherever you can!
School Pick Up
If you’re introverted (which, let’s face it, most writers are) and don’t have anyone to chat to while waiting for the kids to be released, work on your words. The same rule applies if you wait in your parked car for the kids to come to you. That precious time—even if it’s only ten minutes—might be enough to crack that plot twist.
Split your lunch break into an eating session and a sprinting session. Write for fifteen minutes straight and reward yourself with food!
Or you can get into the habit of writing one sentence every time you finish eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any snacks. By the end of the day, you’ll have a paragraph. By the end of the week almost a page. Even if that one page is all you manage, it’s better than having no page at all.
Early To Rise. Late To Sleep
Wake up ten minutes early and write some words down. You don’t even need to get out of bed! Drunk on dreams, you may find your creative brain functions great first thing!
If early mornings aren’t your thing, spend the last ten minutes before you switch off the light penning some words in a notebook. It all adds up!
Waiting Room Writing
If one reason you can’t regularly write is regular appointments, ditch the years-old magazines, mindless scrolling on your phone, and watching the infomercials on the waiting room TV, and plot out some paragraphs!
While technically you can’t write while in the shower, and I don’t recommend that you do or try to, you can think about your story. In fact, most ideas are born this way. The trick is remembering everything when you get out so you can write it down.
Social Media Swap
If you think about it or use that screen time app that holds a mirror to your soul and shows you how much time you really spend on social media, I’m sure you’d happily swap that scrolling time for writing time.
What you thought was five minutes of checking Facebook here and there is really an hour of your whole day—wasted. Make sure you swap some of that time-suck for progress on your MS instead.
While cutting chores will give you time to write, there’s only so much vacuuming you can put off before you realize your carpet isn’t really that color gray. Lucky for you, thinking about writing totally counts!
You can plot many a twist when cleaning, cooking dinner, and washing dishes. Thinking about your story and getting a feel for the characters while doing mindless tasks usually results in everything pouring out when you finally get the chance to write. And you’ll have boring chores to thank for that!
Cash In On Your Commute
If your commute to the day job requires sitting on public transport, use that time to get at least one page written. It all adds up over the course of a working year, and you could have a book at the end.
You could also use your stint in public to people-watch, improve your character description skills, dialogue (who hasn’t overhead an interesting conversation while sitting on a train?), and settings by watching the scenery out the window.
When it comes to crafting words when you can’t get to your keyboard enough, incidental writing is your best friend. It allows you to chip away at each sentence, paragraph, page, chapter, and eventually a whole manuscript. It’s slow, but it’s progress, and as they say, you can’t edit a page if it hasn’t been written.
— K.M. Allan