For a few years, I’ve struggled on and off to find a good time to do my fiction-writing. Early in the morning before anyone else was awake always seemed to be ideal, but it was also generally out of reach. Early in the morning for me would have to be around 4am. More often than not, I’d skip it and then start out the day feeling guilty about having skipped my writing session. I tried other things off and on and another really seemed to work. Recently, however I’ve been trying something new and have managed to build up some consistency. It wasn’t anything I’d really considered before, but it seems to be working.
We usually all head upstairs at around 7pm. We get the kids ready for bed. There are showers and baths. There are books to read. There are clothes to lay out for the next day. And once all of that is done, the kids settle down to watch some cartoon or other before bed. It is during that time–while the kids are watching their cartoon–that I get my writing done. I sit in the glider chair in our bedroom with my Chromebook open to the current story. I have my noise-cancelling headset on, and I listen to a bunch of white-noise thunderstorm tracks that I downloaded. I can usually manage to get in 500 words before I have to start putting the kids to bed. Sometimes, I’ll try for more once they are asleep.
Yesterday was the 8th day in a row that I squeezed in my writing in this manner. 8 days does not a habit make, but there is something different about this time than my previous attempts at finding a good time to write. First, I look forward to it. It’s like my 10am walk, which I look forward to even more these days because I walk listening to whatever audio book I happen to be on at the moment. I look forward to the writing time, in part because I know I’ll be able to get some writing done, even if it is only a few hundred words.
Second, it comes toward the end of the day, before I am too tired to write, but also at time when the evening chores are done, so that there really isn’t anything else to do. My lunch is made. The kids are ready for bed. The trash is out. I’m not worried about getting those other things done. They are behind me.
Third, I know the window is relatively short–30 minutes at best. That forces me to focus and I think that helps.
Fourth, there are no alarms to wake up to. This happens at a time when I am still wide awake, and everyone else is preoccupied with other things.
Fifth, the entire family is together when I do it. This is very different from my previous attempts at writing early in the morning on during my lunch hour. Kelly is laying in our bed and the Little Man and Little Miss are laying there with here, watching their cartoon. I am sitting in the glider chair next to the bed. Even the cats get into the action. We are all together, and there’s something nice about that.
My present streak of writing consistency started on February 27. I have written every evening since then, for a total of about 5,900 words. One night, I could only manage a little over 200. Last night, it was closer to 1,300 words. I imagine there will come nights were circumstances simply don’t allow me to squeeze in any writing. But I’m hoping those nights will become the exception and not the rule. We’ll see how it goes. Right now, I’m just looking forward to this evening’s writing. I don’t worry about tomorrow. I guess that’s how streaks build up.