Why finding time to write isn’t the same as finding time to type words.

I’m late to the party by several years, but I just discovered the Writing Excuses podcast. This morning I listened to the very first episode, Brainstorming, whilst folding towels [insert snarky comment here re: the glamorous life of the writer], and it drove home something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. Namely, the fact that working at home and freelancing are really not conducive to writing fiction.

This is the exact opposite of what I believed back in my days as a cubicle-dweller. I used to go to my job and sit at my desk and daydream about all the scads of free time I’d have if I could just freelance from home and create my own schedule.

I’ll just pause here a moment to let any freelancers who are reading this get done laughing.

See, back when I used to work at a “real job,” I had a 45 minute commute each way, I took long “wake-me-up” showers every morning, and I had a lot of busy-work at my job that didn’t require a lot of concentration. These times, strangely enough, are when most of my writing got done. Not the actual typing, mind you, but all of the parts of writing that result in having something to type up.

These days, I only leave the house to run errands, usually within a five mile radius, and my husband usually drives, so there are no long drives or time stuck in traffic to let my mind wander. My client work requires complete concentration, and the less said about the showering habits of the freelance writer, the better, methinks.

To compound the problem, as a Christian, I do my best to devote the quiet moments in each day to meditating on scripture and talking things out with my Maker. A lot of fiction writers advocate going on long walks to generate story ideas, but my morning walks are dedicated to prayer time.

So where does that leave me as a fiction writer? For now, I’m making it a point to schedule quiet time every now and then for brainstorming, but I’m finding it really hard to force it. This is why all of my novel WIPs are, well, still WIPs, and why I’m having a really difficult time filling in the middle bits of the new novel’s outline. I’ve managed to carve out time in the late morning for writing, but really, that time is for the typing. The magic part of fiction writing needs sufficient time to happen in between the typing bits, and right now I’m kind of at a loss as to what to do about it.

Ah, well. Maybe this task of reclaiming the cat room is just what I need. I’ve been spending that time listening to podcasts or music, but today I’ll try cleaning in silence and see if that jogs anything loose in the story plotting centers of my brain.

Speaking of the cat room, I’m going to have to stop calling it that soon, because it’s slowly starting to resemble a craft room once again. Yesterday I ran into a lot more brown recluses than on day one, and I’m proud of myself for only screaming once. I’ll only get to spend half an hour a day in there — if that — during the week, so progress will go quite a bit more slowly now, but the holiday weekend sure gave me a good start.