Inner Space – How to Protect your Thinking Time

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Like most of you I’m not just a writer, I wear lots of different hats.  This week I have been acting producer on my feature and a new short, researching an industry talk, doing interviews and other promotional duties.   So how to protect that ever shrinking window of thinking time when I can percolate ideas and write new scenes for my script?  Writers always feel guilty about not doing enough, like a working Mum, we enjoy our trips into the outside world while longing to return to our baby. So how to carve out that time and not feel bad? Or put another way, how do you create the illusion of thinking time when you really don’t have any?

1)  If I feel oppressed by my ‘to do’ list I go to a café and read a paper.  Just taking half an hour out of my schedule relaxes me and frees me up to have ideas.

2) Go for a walk – I love walking by the River Thames at Hammersmith – whether it’s a fifteen minute or an hour long stroll, looking at the water and the boats always calms me down and I go home refreshed and able to think.  Processing time is as important as sitting down to write.

3) See a friend. I am always keen on this option! Although going out for dinner and drinks or to see a movie or play might feel like bunking off,  it gives you fresh ideas inspired by what you’ve seen or the conversation.

4) Talk to another writer.   Much as dieters love to compare their nibbling sins, most writers are convinced everyone is working harder than they are. So your idea of ‘laziness’ is another person’s ‘hard at work’ and you can reassure each other – or spur each other on if you need a bit of a nudge.

5) Write a blog or script diary. Seriously. I started this blog to make myself write my feature and if I am struggling to write the script, I can explore my feelings in the blog or ask for help and move on.  And you can always play them off against each other –  ‘so if I work on the script I get to do the blog’ (and vice versa)….

6) Cut yourself some slack. Anxiety only goes so far as a driver then it’s counterproductive to creative flow. Get away all together – go away for the weekend, or take a holiday and leave the laptop at home.  Hard I know but you’ll get so much done when you get back….;)

7) Show up at the page. Everyone always says this but even fifteen minutes looking at your notes or revising yesterday’s pages keeps you thining about the project so when you get real free time you can jump straight in without having to remind yourself where you left off. And routine is everything when you’re writing.

Back to those brilliant working Mums (and Dads) who find time whenever they can to write, if they can do it then so can I….

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How do you protect your thinking time? Leave a comment below or tweet me @emlin32 on Twitter.

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