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Finding the Time to Write

Last Thursday I went home for the weekend. Home, for me, is a little over two hours on a train. I watch a lot of people on the train stare at their phones, gawp out of the window at the passing sheep and eat obscenely priced, sad looking food purchased from the on board shop for their low price of their soul.

But two hours on a train is a godsend if you’re busy and need time to edit or write, especially if you’re a busy person. You are stuck in that seat whether you like it or not. If you book your ticket in advance, you could even request a seat at a table and avoid curling around the little fold down flap from the seat in front. This is especially useful if you have some sort of portable writing device which won’t balance on this little fold down rests.

I edited two short stories (one of which I entered in the competition I talked about here!) and had time for a nap on the journey home. When I make that trip during November, I will scrap the nap (rhyme intended) and write for two hours. Last November I used to reward myself after I’d written so many words by reading a book or just relaxing and listening to music for ten minutes.

Trains aren’t the only form of public transport good for writing. Any time you are stuck waiting or travelling, is writing time. This is particularly useful in November when you’ll be pushing to reach 1,667 words a day and suddenly find you haven’t got the time for such a word count.

If you have a smartphone, get a writing app. I personally use Writer (geniusly named but it does exactly what it says on the tin) which was free. It’s a very simple app which lets you create new documents and saves them automatically as you write. You can even bold and italicise your writing, make lists and insert quotes! It kinda looks like Notepad on your phone, but it does more things.

‘Writer’ on Google Play.

I apologise for not linking for iPhone but I couldn’t find an easy way to search apps on the store online and I refuse to own anything Apple related to search that way. If anyone finds a link, let me know and I’ll update.

I’m sure there are plenty of other apps out there as well. Find one which suits you and your needs. I have a Dropbox account and I upload each file from Writer to Dropbox via the Dropbox app when I’m done with my travelling for back up and for ease of copying it to my main file on my computer.

If you don’t have a smartphone, invest in a notebook. Sometimes the old way is the best way!

With your notebook/smartphone you are ready to write whenever you find a spare minute. Bus stuck in traffic? Perfect. London Underground delayed? Awesome! Your friend’s running late? Brilliant! These are your writing times. Use them wisely. (You could even write standing up, if your balance is good.)

You’d be amazed at how much you can get written by snatching a few minutes here and there. It’s not as productive as sitting down for a good solid writing session but if your day is busy and you’re not sure if you’ll find the time for that good solid writing session, then snatching ten minutes where you can will stop you from losing your mind when it comes to watching your word count levels. And you’ll be amazed what you can come up with whilst squashed on the subway next to that one person who still hasn’t discovered deodorant for fifteen painful minutes.

And, if nothing else, writing will help you block out the horror of the rush hour commute.

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