Until a couple of years ago, I had to squeeze time for writing out of a busy schedule; I have four children, now all adults, and have enjoyed an interesting and satisfying career, so writing was very much relegated to third place, after my family and earning a living, both of which took a great deal of time and energy. I have always been an early riser, and it used to be my routine to write for an hour or so first thing in the morning, before anyone else got up.
Two years ago, I reduced my hours at work considerably. My youngest son, the only one of my children still living at home, was by then nineteen, and involved in his own work and studies. So I looked eagerly forwards to writing more than ever before.
It didn’t happen. I started an MA in Celtic Studies, something I had long yearned to do, and my early morning slot was the most appropriate one for concentrated, uninterrupted study; after all, with fewer commitments, I was sure I would find plenty of time to write later in the day. But my studies took more hours than I had anticipated, I began seeing members of my very large extended family more often, increased the amount of vegetables I grew in the garden, and generally committed myself to all sorts of things I had hoped to do when I had time.
Life was happy, busy, and fulfilling, but if I’m honest, I was writing no more than before, and sometimes, when I had an essay or other assignment due, I ended up writing that, rather than something more creative. This could have been a sign that I actually didn’t want to write as much as I thought I did; but it was a source of considerable dissatisfaction for me, so I decided that I had simply got the balance of things in my life wrong.
So I started planning writing slots into my day. I joined a small writing group, worked out what I wanted to get done each week, and so on.
And now a writing challenge has been suggested to me: to freshen my attitude towards this craft by seeking out ways to write more each day, even if that means writing around my other commitments, rather than waiting until I have no other plans to write. I expect still to do much of my writing in my usual places, but this challenge will encourage me to notice some of the ways that I could incorporate more writing into my daily life. As well as enabling me to look at my routine with fresh eyes, I hope that it may change or add to my writing itself. I already have three or four regular writing spots, and find that each is more suited to particular types of work or different writing-related tasks; how will writing in a variety of locations over the course of a month impact on what I do? I look forward to finding out!