Lately, the writing that I want to do for my third book has been competing with a lot of other projects, tasks, and priorities. Just in the past week, I’ve set writing aside to:
- Take an impromptu half-day-trip with my partner
- Edit the proofs of a forthcoming edited collection that the publisher needed a quick turnaround for
- Prepare for the release of a research report for my day-job and then handle follow-up inquires from a range of sources
- Meet with designers about a possible kitchen renovation
- Edit and upload a video promoting my second book
- Have phone calls with potential authors for a new book series that I’m pitching to a publisher
- Upload and promote my latest podcast episode
And the list goes on. (It’s also important to note that most of these items occurred outside of the 9 hours per day that I spend at the office for my day-job.)
My strategy to make sure that I’m making some progress with the new book, however small, has been to write in the nooks and crannies.
Here’s what that looks like:
- When I have a conversation with someone that’s pertinent to the book’s topic, I jot down some notes on my phone or a piece of paper and then set it aside for later review.
- I don’t consider any potential writing time as “too small” — when a few minutes open up, I at least look over my notes and think about what I want to write next.
- As I read (also in the nooks and crannies) as part of my research for the book, I earmark pages that I want to return to and then I type up those notes and quotes for later incorporation into a chapter.
- I write things in my head and then, when I have a moment, I make handwritten notes or type up what I’ve been thinking about so that I can polish it later.
What all these things have in common is that they are not finished prose that will wind up in the book as-is. A lot of these things are chicken-scratch notes that are the building blocks for later ideas.
Even though I’m busy now, I refuse to phone-in my work on this book. I’ll do whatever pieces I can now, however little, with the knowledge that those pieces will add up to a larger whole in the coming months.
I like to think that I’m like a squirrel, hiding away little nuts in strange places that will pop up later when I need them. My notes will contain the perfect quote, idea, or source to cite when I’m stuck later on down the line.
I’ve written before about how we don’t always get to write in our ideal writing windows. Yes, it’s a little scary. But it’s also what I have in front of me right now.
To think on:
- What are you able to accomplish in the nooks and crannies of your life? What kinds of little nuts can you squirrel away for larger projects?
- What’s so important to you that you squeeze it into the nooks and crannies?