Be Sneaky About Your Writing

Are you a bit devious when it comes to your writing habits?  Have you mastered the art of writing while you’re doing other work?  Are you good at being sneaky?  Does my boss read this blog?

While it might not be the best idea to be too sneaky when it comes to writing on other peoples’ time, it’s not the worst idea to bring a bit of sneakiness into your writing.

I’m not talking about nodding your head during a PowerPoint presentation about sexual harassment while writing some bizarre love scene in your book that’s making your cheeks red.  I’m also not talking about sitting in a conference room pretending to do work while trying to finish an exciting chapter about a high speed car chase that crashes through the first floor of an office building and ends the work day.

But I am talking about being sneaky – being sneaky and greedy about your writing time.  While I’m a big advocate of getting into a routine to stay productive, I also think that changing up your habits can be a powerful tool.

In my last post I mentioned that the arrival of spring has been a huge distraction for me and has started eating into the time I usually reserve for writing.  Writing from 7-8 has been replaced by a big dinner with friends or a baseball game, and writing from 10-11 has been replaced by a beer on the roof.  The old habits of sitting down for an hour are starting to get harder, and something has to change.

So I started to steal time back from my day.  Is it a long term solution?  Maybe not – but the more I think about it the more I realize that it just might be.

It’s about building new habits.  Habits that don’t have to fully replace your old ones, but can cover for you on days where you miss your scheduled writing.  And on days that you do get your writing in, they’ll be a great way to supplement that time.

Because writing for 20 minutes at a time isn’t mentally draining.  Not like writing for two hours is.

So how do you steal time back from your day?

I take the metro to and from work – it’s only ten minutes each way so I never really thought to use it on something productive.  Before, I used to sit on the train with headphones in and stare at the wall daydreaming, but now I have 20 extra minutes every day to write, and sometimes knowing I only have ten minutes at a time can make me twice as productive.  I bring my computer to and from work anyway, so it’s easy.  If you don’t want to bring your computer you can bring a notepad, iPad, smartphone, or anything else you might want to use.

If I get to work ten minutes early I write instead of wait around.  I get an hour for lunch and only eat for forty minutes, so that’s an extra twenty minutes.  If I shower but my friends don’t get to my apartment for another fifteen minutes, that’s extra time to write.  When I add all the time up, I’ve been averaging an extra hour a day of writing, which is a ton of time to be productive.  And you don’t even have to use every single opportunity –using just half of them is still 30 minutes.

So be sneaky about your writing habits.  Steal the time back from your day.  Break up your writing sessions to make them less mentally taxing.

At the end of the week you’ll have seven hours worth of great writing to be proud of – or seven hours worth of terrible writing burning in the fireplace.  Who knows?   Either way, it’s worth a shot.

Are you a bit devious when it comes to your writing habits?  Do you find small amounts of time during the day to sneak in a few words/paragraphs/pages?  What creative ways have you found to steal some time for writing?