Writing Tips for the Horrifically Over-Scheduled

16 Mar

by Julie Eshbaugh


In the last few weeks, things have gotten out of control as far as my personal schedule is concerned.  My “online presence” has really dwindled – I’m rarely on Twitter, the blogs, or even my own email – and it’s rare if I get a few quiet minutes in front of the computer.  Despite this epic time-crunch, I still consider myself to be “writing,” and I’m still making forward progress on my current story.  It’s definitely not easy to keep going when you find yourself having to choose between writing and sleeping, but there are other ways to keep up the momentum besides living like a sleep-deprived zombie.

Here are some tips for my fellow HOSWs (Horrifically Over-Scheduled Writers):

  • Remember that every month isn’t November.  Don’t live in the midst of a never-ending NaNoWriMo.  Don’t feel you have to add 50,000 words to your manuscript each month.  The key is to work on the manuscript.  One day you’ll add 2,000 words.  One day you’ll delete 1,000.  But even on the days when you edit out most of what you added the day before, you’re making progress!
  • Write in the shower.  Maybe you can’t take the laptop in with you, but you can brainstorm with (hopefully) minimal interruption.  Once you’ve dried off, take a minute or two to write down a few words that can act as memory triggers later.
  • Invest in a handheld digital recorder.  Hit the record button while you’re stuck in traffic and dictate your latest idea for a key plot twist or describe a character in depth. If you feel particularly frustrated with the traffic, describe how your characters deal with frustration.  Use the circumstances that threaten to prevent you from writing and turn them into writing prompts.
  • Don’t forget that handy-dandy notebook!  Carry a pocket notebook at all times and don’t preserve it for only your best, most notebook-worthy ideas.  Even a moleskine can handle your worst!  Give yourself permission to write down ideas that might embarrass you later.  Notebooks are also great places to sketch maps!
  • Keep in mind that writing is not a race!  Very little in life is improved by haste.  Write your book in the time it takes.  After the first one gets published, you’ll have plenty of publisher-imposed deadlines to meet.

Do you feel overwhelmed by an oppressive list of time-consuming obligations?  How do you make the most of the time you have?  Please share your ideas in the comments!


Julie Eshbaugh is represented by Natalie Fischer of the Bradford Literary Agency.  You can read her blog here and find her on Twitter here.



15 Responses to “Writing Tips for the Horrifically Over-Scheduled”

  1. Dawn Brazil March 16, 2011 at 12:15 AM #

    These are great tips. I bought a handheld voice recorder as soon as I decided to write a novel. I knew with work, school, three kids (4 with the hubby) and writing a book, I’d lose my mind. It has helped. I don’t use it as often as I used to but it is still my saving grace in a pinch.

    • Julie Eshbaugh March 16, 2011 at 5:58 AM #

      Hi Dawn! A voice recorder can really help in a spot where you can’t write anything down, especially the car. You sound super busy! Congrats on not letting your busy schedule stop you from writing. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  2. Laura E. Wardle March 16, 2011 at 4:11 AM #

    As usual, fabulous tips, Julie! I invested in a handheld voice recorder for lectures, and it’s been absolutely brilliant in recording ideas for my novel when I go on walks and I’m driving. Actually used it last night when dying my hair. Of course, I also carry a notebook around. But the handheld voice recorder is such a great idea. It’s one I pass on to all my writer friends. 🙂

    • Julie Eshbaugh March 16, 2011 at 6:00 AM #

      Hi Laura! I think it’s great you were recording notes while dying your hair! Multi-tasking at its most extreme! 🙂 Thanks for you comment.

  3. Rowenna March 16, 2011 at 9:00 AM #

    Awesome tips! I think sometimes my best trick is just writing when you find unexpected time. Sounds dumb and basic, but when you have a half hour suddenly free because your dinner guests are late…write! When your husband decides to watch a TV show that you’re not too fond of…write! When you can’t sleep…write! That, and brainstorming when driving or washing dishes or, yes, in the shower, so you start hitting the keys as soon as you sit down–no wasting time you could be crafting words on “what was I going to do next?”.

    • Julie Eshbaugh March 16, 2011 at 9:38 PM #

      What?! Your husband sometimes watches a TV show you’re not too fond of! I can’t imagine… 😉 Thanks for the comment. Great tips! 🙂

  4. authorguy March 16, 2011 at 9:09 AM #

    You got most of mine. I do a lot of my brainstorming as I drive, especially when the car is in motion, so the recorder is a must. It’s also helpful to have near the bed, when you get that great idea and don’t want to wake up enough to write it down. I do what little writing I get done lately (half a page or so per day) in the morning, before the day’s business interrupts.

    • Julie Eshbaugh March 16, 2011 at 9:41 PM #

      I love the idea of keeping the recorder next to the bed! Sometimes I try to write down an idea in the middle of the night and my handwriting is so bad I can’t read it in the morning. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Rosie G March 16, 2011 at 9:36 AM #

    I think you should get one of these…


    Then you could write whilst in the shower and still remember it 😀


    • Julie Eshbaugh March 16, 2011 at 9:45 PM #

      That is SO AWESOME!!! I definitely need to get one. Thanks for commenting Rosie!!! 🙂

  6. kmariefoley March 16, 2011 at 10:53 AM #

    I love this idea: “Give yourself permission to write down ideas that might embarrass you later.”

    • Julie Eshbaugh March 16, 2011 at 9:47 PM #

      LOL I’m glad you liked that! I really have to tell myself it’s okay to write down crazy ideas. They might start out crazy, but end up brilliant. 😉 Thanks for the comment!

  7. juanvillagrana March 24, 2011 at 7:13 PM #

    Amazing post! I always try to write 1,000 words a day. I’ve been pretty good about it this month, with the exception of about four or so days.
    I also keep a writing notebook, but it’s pretty big and I’ll bust it out when I’m bored during my Chemistry class or have free time and I’ll write these long scenes for my WIP, STARSONG, which I know I wouldn’t have been able to write if I didn’t have the notebook handy!

    • Julie Eshbaugh March 24, 2011 at 9:02 PM #

      Hey Juan! I love the fact that you use a big notebook, so you can get away with writing scenes in Chemistry class. 😉 And writing scenes out longhand can be so different from typing. I try to write a few scenes with pen and paper when I have a new WIP. It makes me feel a lot more connected to it. Thanks for commenting!


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