I just glanced at the clock. 7:35 am. That leaves me ten, maybe fifteen minutes to write before it's time for me to head for my day job. What can I possibly accomplish in so little time?
A lot, as it turns out. My current schedule only permits me to devote snippets of time to my passion, my true vocation. On some days, despairingly, I spend those precious moments staring helplessly at a blinking cursor, or with pen in frozen hand; on others, my fingers fly across the keyboard and words appear almost effortlessly across the screen. What makes the difference between writer's block and productivity?
The difference lies in how I spend my time away from the keyboard. At work, while driving, or when taking a shower. Sitting in the waiting room of a doctor's office, standing in a grocery store check out line, working out. When I spend all of this non-writing time thinking about non-writing stuff--my bills, my to-do list, a misunderstanding with a co-worker or whatever--I find that I am not prepared to write when those brief, precious time slots for writing become available.
But when I use non-writing time to think about writing--to brainstorm ideas, actively listen to conversations around me, consciously notice the details of the room I'm in, the person I'm with or how I am truly feeling at any given moment--I come to my tiny slivers of writing time equipped use them well.
Take this morning, for example. Rather than daydream or worry or fret during my shower, I decided to ask myself the question, "What can I write about today?" I had just polished and submitted two short articles to a trade magazine the day before, and was faced with the ugly prospect of staring at a blank screen. What would I put there when the moment came? Ah, I thought, I haven't written an article about writing in a while, and have nearly two weeks before my next issue--could I start a new one today? About what? What would motivate, inspire and/or inform my readers? Perhaps many of them also face full days that leave only short, scattered opportunities to write. What can I tell them?
Hence, the first several paragraphs of this very article. And the satisfaction of knowing that, later in the day or early the next, I can pick up where I left off--no blank screen staring back at me.
Believe me, these 10-to-15 minute time slots for writing add up. In three to four days, you can have the first draft of a 500-800 word article, one or two query letters, a book outline, a scene for your novel, or several greeting card sentiments. Over the following few days, you can polish them. Submit them to appropriate markets when they're ready to go. Grin with a sense of accomplishment. Then start the whole process all over again.
I am completing this article during a 30-minute stint on a Saturday morning, a week before my next issue goes out. I'll have plenty of time to edit and improve it over the next few days, by which time I'll have other projects started as well.
I urge you not to use "being too busy" as an excuse not to write, and not to get published. Certainly you may have only precious moments to spend at your keyboard. Come to those moments consistently prepared, watch those moments add up and those projects take shape, and your writing dream will come true.