Writing in the Corners of Time: Three Tips for Making the Most of Your Creativity

For a long time I have wanted to be a writer. If you’re reading this, chances are good you know that feeling as well. The challenge for some (I’m sure I’m not alone in this), is finding the time to actually do the work of a writer. If you’re not one of the fortunate souls who can make writing their daily work, this can be challenging indeed. Maybe you need to keep that full time job, or you have children at home, or you are a student. Whatever obstacle you are facing, there is a way to make your writing dream a reality. But you’re going to have to work at it.

In my case, it’s a full time job, a spouse and three children that demand my time and energy. For several years, my writing moved to the background as these other things took priority. As I’ve attempted to make more room for writing and creativity, I’ve had to make some adjustments to how I approach each of these various activities.

If you are in a position that allows writing to be the top priority in your life, you no doubt have your own challenges to face. As I’ve never found myself in this position, I cannot speak to what those challenges might be, and you will likely find little of value in this article. Yes, I have a touch of envy for you, and I hope that one day I might be closer to that place than I am now.

In the meantime, I find I have some great things in my life I’m not willing to set aside. Maybe you are there too. Things that are important in their own right, family, career, education. Here are a few tips I’ve learned from my own experience that have helped increase my writing productivity within the frame of a very busy life.

Make the most of every opportunity

I had to train myself to write quickly, in short bursts. I learned to make the most of every opportunity. Some sort of notebook comes in very handy here. Take it everywhere. They come in all shapes and sizes, with infinite designs to fit any interest. Find one that fits your life, your style, and go.

One way to prioritize your writing without taking away from those things in your life that are essential is to write in the in-between moments, or as I like to call them, the corners of time. They exist everywhere if you watch for them, and are prepared to catch them.

Write while you wait for the bus, or during your commute. Write in the moments after cleaning up the lunch mess while the preschoolers actually play nicely together. Write on your lunch break. Write before class. Basically, any moment you find yourself waiting, pull out your notebook and write.

What you write doesn’t matter so much as the act itself. Put words on the page, any words. As long as you’re writing, the right words will come. Let your subconscious mind continue to work even when you can’t write. If you can get away with it, keep your notebook handy for when those brilliant ideas suddenly jump to the front and demand attention.

Be prepared for anything

If you’re a parent, you already know that children are extraordinarily curious. They are demanding, they want everything their own way, and anything that is yours, is theirs. As a writer, and a mother, I’ve had to learn ways to work around, and with this demanding curiosity.

When my boys were very little, I carried around a spiral notebook or two at all times along with a handful of pens. One reason being that a paper notebook is much easier to replace than expensive technology should they fall victim to sticky fingers. Also, my boys loved to take my notebooks away from me and fill the pages with their own artwork and writing. That’s why I always carried a spare. I could give one away, and still write in the other.

There is a plus side to my children stealing my notebooks and using them for their own endeavors. My stories come pre-illustrated in a beautiful, imagination-stretching way. My boys have been free to express their own creativity. They have come to recognize a blank page is something to be filled, not feared.

Make writing a priority, but not the priority

It was here in my simple spiral notebooks where my eldest first learned to write his letters and numbers. It’s where he first learned to write his own name, and to recognize letters and words as more then simple marks on a page. One of my favorites is where my son took over my notebook and began to make little squiggly lines on the ruled page, emulating my cursive handwriting.

In short, this season of parenting is fleeting. Make the most of it. Already, my children no longer reach first for my notebook, they want one of their own. They are growing up. Before I know it, instead of a notebook, they will want their own laptop. My only hope is that they will still delight in filling an empty page.

Whatever your situation, if you want to write, you can find a way to make it happen. Fill up the corners of time in your world. Fill them with beautiful poetry and breath-taking prose. Never fear the blank page, but let it instead challenge you to stretch your creativity.

Thank you for reading. I’d love to hear about how you’ve overcome the time challenges you face with your own writing.

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Truthwitch, by Susan Dennard: a Review

Truthwitch, by Susan Dennard
Published by Tor Teen, released January 5, 2016
Jacket art by Scott Grimando

The Reading Challenge 2016 includes a book published this year. For this part of the Challenge, I chose to read Truthwitch, by Susan Dennard. I first ran across this title among a list of upcoming novels, and thought it looked interesting. Yes, I was drawn first by the beautiful cover art Scott Grimando. I then found a prerelease review and decided I definitely needed to add it to my reading list. When this Reading Challenge came up, Truthwitch jumped to the top of my list. In a word, fun!

Truthwitch is book one of The Witchlands, a planned four book series. At its heart, this is the story of two friends, Safiya and Iseult, who share a bond as close, if not closer, than any family bond. They are young women, only just coming into their own as adults and trying to find their place in the world. They definitely have their own ideas about what that place is, and they don’t simply take the advice of the adults around them, even when it might seem to be for their benefit.

The story takes place in a rich, detailed world filled with magic, adventure, empires, beleaguered nations and a variety of people groups with interesting cultures and an intriguing history. Dennard has set the scene for a fantastic epic adventure. It opens at a run, and maintains this breathless pace throughout the novel, with the girls getting into trouble at every turn.

Written from four different points of view, the two main characters, Safiya and Iseult, as well as Prince Merik and Aeduan, the antagonist, the reader is given the opportunity to experience this incredible world from different angles. I am most intrigued by Aeduan whom I found myself liking immensely, despite his role as the bad guy. His is a back story I definitely want to know more about.

In short, I loved this book. I will read it again. I will recommend it to others. And I will wait impatiently for the next book. In the meantime, I think I’ll check out Susan Dennard’s first series of novels, beginning with Something Strange and Deadly.

Find out more about Truthwitch and the Witchlands here.
Or visit Susan Dennard’s website here.