Sometimes a writer needs to disappear. Right now I have two big projects going at the same time. My phone keeps beeping, my family needs to eat, the papers pile up on the coffee table, and I don’t have any clean clothes to put on. All these distractions crowd into my mind while I’m trying to create content for books.
What can we writers do to manage our lives and our writing at the same time? I’ve discovered some strategies of my own, and adopted some from others.
- Set blocks of time to dedicate to writing. My most productive time of the day is morning. So I try not to schedule any other activity in the morning except writing. This means saying “no” to some good, worthwhile things. But I do it to preserve my time and energy for what is best–working at what I know God has set before me.
- Take breaks. I set a timer so that I get up for a 30-minute break every couple of hours or so. This is when I put a load of laundry on, answer phone calls or text messages, and check email. But I set a timer to end the break also, so I don’t get caught up in other things and forget to go back to writing.
- I work in my office. I love to sit in a comfy chair in the living room by a big window with my computer in my lap and my feet tucked up under me. But this is a recipe for back trouble. I cannot sit that way for hours on end, day after day. I have a good chair in my office where I can sit with both feet on the floor and my screen at eye level. There is a window in this room, so I don’t feel closed in.
- Let your friends and family know that writing is a full-time occupation for you. Treat it the same as if you went to another address to work. I’ve heard of some writers who get up, dress, and go drive around the block to make themselves think they are going to “the office” to work. I prefer to keep it more casual, but do what works for you.
- Call your long writing times a “writing cave”. Let others know when you’re entering your cave. That way they can better understand your unresponsiveness to their calls and messages and you don’t feel guilty for not responding right away.
These tips help me, but sometimes a deadline looms, requiring a more intensive schedule. Then I do become invisible. I go away. I found a place a few hours away from my home where I can stay while I write. This place has no internet. I can literally disappear from my regular life for a few days while I focus on a project. I encourage you to scout out a place like this. Then, when the pressure is most intense, you can disappear, too.