Guest Post: Making Time To Write by Eileen Granfors
People have asked me how I manage to read so many books. They don’t realize that reading is only one part of my day when I am allowed by my serendipitous husband to stay in control of my day. “Hey, let’s drive to Crane for the art fair!” I don’t like to turn down such opportunities and carry a notebook to jot snips of conversation or sights we see on our adventures.
I read. I write. I review. I exercise and meditate. How?
For some, devoting a whole day to one of the activities mentioned above might work. But for me, dividing my day into cuts of time works better.
I am a morning person, up bright-eyed and anxious to get going by 7 a.m.. I catch up on email and Facebook. By then, hubby drags himself out of bed (night owl) and we walk the dogs (3) and enjoy the morning air. Patrick has a good eye for photography and for the details in the woods. I’m usually concentrating on not getting tripped by a leash.
While we walk and talk, I’m also thinking about the next scene that I want to write in my WIP. For good measure, the previous day I have written a note on my outline of what I’m trying to achieve in the next chapter. So I usually spend from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. writing. I do not revise this writing. The revisions come later, and if I can hit 1500 to 2000 new words, I am a happy writer.
Then I play with the dogs and try to teach them new commands. I am not Cesar Milan, The Dog Whisperer, and these sessions normally end with some kind of chase or rough-housing. I clear our bedroom of puppy fodder (blankets, pillows, pieces of paper) and do my half hour of yoga in a yoga den Patrick built for me. I know that’s not a lot of calories burned, but it works for me.
Back to the keyboard. I make a choice. Will I blog today (guest or personal) or will I review? I review as often as I can. I know how I feel when I’m waiting for reviews to come in. 11:00-11:30—review or blog.
Afternoons are for unwinding. I take a nap at 1 p.m. I have done this since college. I need to cuddle under a blanket and let the world go away. It is the dogs who tell me, “Time’s up,” They are always right on the money, 30 minutes.
Post-nap a few household chores I find onerous, such as folding the @#$# laundry takes up to thirty minutes to an hour. There are only two human beings in this house, yet we produce loads and loads of laundry. Luckily for me, my husband loves to cook, so I don’t have to go through the machinations of getting dinner ready. I have offered to crock pot something once a week, but he has other ideas.
So, I read. I don’t discriminate in my book choices except by time limits. Reviewers for Amazon’s Vine program used to read and review as they could. Now, Amazon has put a window of days during which the review must appear or NO BOOKS FOR YOU! I have been a fast reader (not a speed reader) because I devour books the way I wish I could devour candy.
By 4 p.m. I set my book aside. I may pick it up again if my husband chooses to watch “Space Aliens vs. the Zombie Women” or some other film I have no interest in. I can read and watch some things simultaneously. The national news, though disparaged as biased and incomplete, is a ritual for me. I love the anchors (even Brian Williams after the great fall), and I have to watch the news. I eat dinner. Patrick likes to eat at 9 p.m. (Oh, my aching stomach).
Bed time arrives. The dogs and I head to the bedroom. Patrick heads for his dinner plate and often for the keyboard of his own computer where he composes funny or thought-provoking poetry. I read one more chapter before turning off the light.
Do I do this every day? Yes, to the extent possible. Like anyone else, I have doctors’ appointments and shopping, the vet, the hair stylist. A book goes with me in the car. If I have been coerced into a trip to Home Depot to buy rope cable or other tools of Patrick’s ongoing war with squirrels, I might read in the truck while he shops.
I was raised by an ambitious mom and an army major. My parents had a schedule for everything, and that habit of using time to its fullest extent has stayed with me. For thirty-three years, I devoted my life to teaching English to high schoolers. I tried not to get too far behind in grading, but even in class, lessons were scheduled almost to the minute.
Blissfully retired, I am investing in myself. The writing time and the exercise are not negotiable. I can’t imagine not reading because it is my favorite recreation. Blogging is the only activity I feel free to axe if the day is not going smoothly.
But as writers, we know what writers do. Writers write. I feel better when I write. I feel best when I write and I exercise (daughter is a fitness trainer). Yes, things get crazy around the holidays or if I travel, but overall, by having learned to live on a schedule, I have written four novels, two anthologies of short stories and flash fiction, and two anthologies of poetry.
As social media dominates more and more time, I try to limit my browsing and commenting on Facebook or Twitter to certain hours of the day, usually during the evening’s TV time.
As a teen, my father’s dominance over my time drove me crazy. But as an adult I learned that Father does indeed Know Best. Especially If you write, read, and blog.