The great poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, said there is an ancient enmity between daily life and the great work. Many of us can relate to that. Every day we have dozens of things to do, all of which pull us away from the novel. How do we overcome this challenge and stay productive and finish what we start?
One way is to learn how to write even when you’re not writing. What I mean by this is that we’d all love to have four or five hours of peace and quiet in front of a computer to finish a new chapter but what if we only have fifteen minutes in a school parking lot waiting to pick up the kids?
My suggestion is to use that fifteen minutes, use every second you have in your day that allows you to focus your imagination on the story you want to tell. Keep a pen and notepad in your car. Whip it out whenever you get the chance, even if you’re just jotting down notes about a new character, a character you don’t have a handle on yet, a character who is one hundred pages away from being born. All work matters, even two or three lines. It all adds up. Most importantly, it maintains the connection between you and your novel. You need to keep that connection strong and vibrant.
Completing your novel is of paramount importance to you. Do whatever you have to in order to keep making progress. Get in the habit of using the voice recorder on your smart phone when you’re out walking or grocery shopping and an idea pops into your head. You will feel better about yourself and your creative journey regardless of how small the output. You’ll feel like you’re doing something. And you are doing something. You’re being creative. You’re being resourceful. You’re remaining steadfast. Five minutes here, ten minutes there, do whatever you can until a block of time opens up that will enable you to get rolling. They key here is not to drive yourself crazy. We don’t want to get neurotic about trying to pack an hour’s worth of writing into five minutes in a parking lot. What we do want to do is take the little chunks of time that seem ripe for creativity and plant something in them. Keep planting and some day you’ll have a garden.