Writing in small chunks of time...

You may have gathered from last week's (lack of) post that life here got busy. My Dad has been ill for a while and got readmitted to hospital last week, so writing (and life in general) has had to take a bit of a back seat.

A while ago, I did two amazing (and free!) courses by Writers' HQ - "14 days to a solid writing habit" and "Turbocharge your creativity". If you've not done them, I really recommend them! And their blog. Just them, really. They're amazing!

Anyway, in the 14 days to a solid writing habit course, the exercises started small - ten minutes of writing, building up to longer sessions. One of the biggest things I learned from this course was that I could squeeze at least some writing into even a tiny portion of time. That has been a godsend this last fortnight or so!

Thankfully, I'm a planner. I may not have had big enough chunks of time in which to write a scene over the last couple of weeks, but I have had time to plan out scenes. If and when I do then get a bit of time to write, the scene is prepped and ready to go. I tend to plan out the start of the scene and how I'm going to finish the scene (because otherwise I get tired and it can ramble on!) and the key things that need to happen in the scene. I also run through my checklist (which I wrote about here) to make sure that the scene is earning its place.

As is always the case when I get about halfway through a zero draft, my plot has decided to take a slight detour (which I'm liking and am happy about as it's enriching my original outline plans), so I've also spent time thinking about how this new strand fits in with The Grand Scheme of the book (and in fact, the whole trilogy). The word count in the book may not have risen at the rate it was when I started writing, but at least I feel as if once the current crisis is over, I'll have enough notes and plans that I can hit the ground running again.

The two Writers' HQ courses really changed my outlook on how to deal with small chunks of writing time. In the past, I would have looked at a 30 minute window and thought "I probably can't finish a scene in that time and I don't want to get stuck in and not finish it" and would then have essentially wasted that half hour. And that's a 30 minute window! A lot of the time, that would be a luxury! There is a lot of stuff you can do in 30 minutes that may not necessarily be getting words down in the ms but are helping with background stuff so that when you do get the time to write, it's not wasted. Some of the exercises included things like character sketches or working on sticky plot points, or world-building. Now I'm into the third book of the trilogy, my characters and world are already clear, but other exercises like planning and timetabling, or making a note of things I needed to look up at some point (and then looking them up when I had just 10 minutes to work in) have been so helpful.

It's definitely wonderful to have the luxury of time and space and a relatively clear schedule in which to write, but that isn't what most of us have (and certainly isn't what I have at the moment). If you're struggling to fit your writing into a busy schedule, I urge you to have a look at the Writers' HQ courses. They made a huge difference to me!