How Do You Find the Time to Write?

I’m asked this question at every workshop, class or panel discussion I’ve ever given… and it’s a tough one. How do you give advice on something like this when you know nothing about a person’s circumstances? I’ll give it a go here, but would love to hear from you about how you find time to write in between all your other responsibilities.

If you love to write and it’s a part of who you are, then it’s important. It’s essential. So make it part of your ‘self-care’ (I think that phrase is replacing ‘me-time’. Even if only 10 minutes a day, in your lunch break, on your commute, first thing in the morning; sit down and write. Just write. Practice, REGULAR practice, makes perfect. Trust me, a little every day soon mounts up. It’s the habit that makes the difference.

Try your hand at short stories, or even flash fiction, that way you will feel accomplished at finishing a piece (and if anyone tells you that writing short pieces is a cop out tell them to f@#$ off!). You will hone your skills and writing effective, descriptive pieces in few words is a great skill.

Take a class. There are lots of creative writing classes out there, find one that suits your schedule, budget and talents. You’ll get guidance, feedback and support and make new writing friends.

Join (or start) a writers group where you have to commit to submitting work each month and giving and receiving constructive feedback. This can be a great support and impetus to get writing!

It’s not always easy to find the time to write, but it’s important to you so ask for support from those nearest and dearest to you. We need to hear each other’s stories. We need your story. So get writing!

Athens!

Just back from the glorious heat of Athens… a city dense with history and current political strife… In contrast, I was teaching a Flash Fiction course for KWS and the British Council, a style of literature that relies on brevity, and a light touch. I was spoilt by a week of great students, visits to the Acropolis, Poseidon’s Temple in Sounio and Aegina. I feasted, I read, I wrote, I walked… more to come from the writing… and discussed Flash Fiction.

Here are my top tips for writing Flash or Micro Fiction –

Every word counts.. so choose carefully, make every word pull its weight, either by suggestion, connotation or by cutting qualifiers or excessive adjectives/descriptors.

Begin mid-scene, in media res, with action or dialogue. Hit the ground running.

Don’t end on a punchline or revelation, unless you’re writing a joke… let the story unfold, meander and reveal itself in the mind of your reader…

Your title should add to the narrative.

Details are key; reveal character, place, emotional dynamics etc by using carefully chosen details that are evocative, remember it’s all about connotation.

All the above also applies to longer fiction!