Saturday, 10 November 2012

Finding Time To Write - Tamsyn Murray

You know how it is - the dog needs walking, emails are beckoning and the kids insist on being fed. The last thing you have time for is writing. But your story is looking for a way out, like a velociraptor testing the fences, and keeping it locked inside makes you cranky. How do you find a way to balance the unreasonable demands of real life with the need to set your story free?

For me, it was all about priorities. When I was writing my first book, I got up at five-thirty every morning to write before work, and sat down at my computer almost as soon as I got home. I didn't cook, I didn't watch TV and I certainly didn't do housework. I was completely selfish. Ian Rankin's wife has recently said that he almost reverts to his student days when he's working on a novel and I can understand why. The problem is that most of us can't be that self-indulgent; babies get really cranky if you ignore them, I've found.

My baby is one year old today. In the past year, I've suffered from the kind of sleep-deprivation that torture specialists can only dream of. I've had zero time to write. And yet, I've still produced five books. My secret once again was prioritising - instead of slumping in front of the TV at the end of the day, I spent every non-baby filled moment writing. I did my best to ignore the dirty dishes. Slowly, the stories reached their endings, because it was important to me that they did.

So the next time you think you don't have time to write, remind yourself that writing is important to you and snatch back as much time as you can to devote to it. Reality will always be there waiting once you've finished.  And if you're really lucky, someone else will have walked the dog.

9 comments:

Keren David said...

You are a star and an inspiration to us all. And now to switch off the internet...

Penny Dolan said...

Wise words. Tamsyn, especially about tv time. I admire your cheerfulness and determination, especially at 5.30.am.

However, being Mrs Doom & Gloom, it can be easy to lose faith in one's abilities & writing, or feel knocked by a review or something similar - all of which makes it harder to grab the work-time against all the other demands. That's when the pomodoro or ticking tomato technique comes in useful.

Tam said...

Thanks, Keren! Yes, the Internet is a double edged sword.

Penny, am intrigued by your ticking tomatoes. Do explain!

Penny Dolan said...

Ticking Tomato? Basically, it's using a simple kitchen timer to give yourself permission to write for a short time, 20 or 30 mins. A length of easy time that can then be repeated, or tried later, or used for 30 mins on writingwork then 20 mins on admin/washing up/social media /dogwalking etc.

It's a useful technique for jump-starting writing

Here's a link to my February ABBA post about it. Hope the link works. If not, try an ABBA search.

http://awfullybigblogadventure.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/strange-case-of-ticking-tomato-by-penny.html

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

well done you! Five books?! Phew! Brilliant - just Keep the faith...

Stroppy Author said...

Hear, hear! I am absolutely in your camp on this, Tamsyn. I *hate* when people say they don't have time to write, and then witter on about what they saw on TV the previous night!

Liz Kessler said...

Tamsyn - I am in awe!

Mary Hoffman said...

5 books and a baby? Respect!

Ann Turnbull said...

Tamsyn, I'm in awe too. Babies, lack of sleep, and five books - wow!

Penny, I've just bought a ticking chicken from the Betterware man - she's adorable!