I’ve been struggling with time management lately. I’ve got a lot on my plate with the day job. A small business takes a lot of work. Since it costs less tokeep a customer then to find new ones, you have to keep adding new products. The majority of my products are handmade, so this means a decent chunk of my time is spent in the research/development/design/creation stages. This means I’m using a TON of my creative juices on a daily basis already.
The addition of yet another shop (which I still haven’t opened yet) and large orders (thank goodness, they pay the freaking bills) have been stressing me out a little more than usual and I’ve got finances to catch up on.
On top of that I’ve got the writing and when you’re stressed sometimes if feels like you cannot find a way into the inspiration. But I am of the mindset that waiting for ‘motivation’ is for people made of weaker stuff! I create the motivation I need.
- Music. I use either music from my husband’s external hard drive, Pandora (the free version) or I create YouTube playlists. This seems an obvious one, sure. Yet when I’m talking to friends (in real life or on an instant messaging service) having issues, I’ll ask about what they’re listening to when they’re writing. Often they either have nothing on or they’ve got the local radio radio station. Sometimes this isn’t bad – I love, on occasion, to have the windows open and the sounds of my neighborhood accompanying my writer. But sometimes you really need to focus on the feeling, the scene. Depending on the type of book/story/screenplay/scene you’re writing, the music will change. When you’re REALLY having trouble writing, stop and think about what you were listening to when you were in the flow. Just hearing the same music might just trigger your left brain/right brain responses (creative side takes over, critical mind zones out).
- Flickr. Sometimes you’ll need a visual inspiration for a scene. A sunset in Florida? A crowded intersection? A hipster coffee house? Maybe you have a character you just can’t get a bead on. Flickr is an incredible host to millions of photographs that can inspire, uplift and help get those words flowing.
- Write right through it! If you’re blocked because you don’t know how to get a character from A to B without writing boring scenes here’s a suggestion: WRITE THROUGH IT! You can either write the next scene – the one you think is boring – until you reach a reason to have the scene (REMEMBER: It’s easier to cut then it is to add; you won’t KEEP the crappy stuff, but it might help you to get to the good bits) or you can write a summary of what the character does to get to the next part. Either way, one of the best ways to get through a “block” is to keep writing.
- Take a 15 minute meditation from your day. Meditation doesn’t mean you have to sit on a pillow with sage burning and a statue of the Buddha in front of you while monks chant in the background. It also doesn’t mean “EMPTYING” the mind. It means calming your mind, stilling the waters, breathing slowly and mindfully. Sometimes we’re so stressed out with everything around us (work, bills, people, hassles, obligations, etc) that its hard for us to actually be productive once we have a moment to ourselves. Our brains will need to freak out, to unleash the turmoil of what has jumbled up inside before we can put it to good use. Two ways to calm the mind that I frequently use are: 1. sitting with calming meditation music and let your mind wander through the “junk mail” of your mind or 2. sit with a notebook and just write about the crap – this is particularly helpful if you’ve had a very stressful day. And, by the way, the more often you do this, the better it is for your mind, blood pressure and stress levels. And with either meditation: use a timer! With a timer you know works (test it first) set for 15 minutes your brain is free to dump it’s chaos without worrying about checking the clock every few minutes. And by the way: think you don’t have time for this? Imagine you only have 30 minutes to write, but you’re so stressed and fried that you can’t think. Isn’t a productive 15 minute writing session after 15 minutes of meditation better than 30 minutes of staring at a blank page and adding to your stress level?
- Last but in no way least is: Read! Some people like to read titles in similar genres that they’re writing, not to ‘steal’ or ‘copy’ anything but to get into that mindset. Others (like me) prefer to read non-fiction, most of the time subjects that have to do with what I’m writing. For instance, if I am writing about an archeologist, I’ll read about amazing archeological finds, what they learn in school, or interviews with archeologists (I’m a sucker for National Geographic, by the way!). You never know what – in reading – might spark the inner muse to greatness!
I hope this small list helps someone out there!