As I review this post, I think a warning is in order: This situation is almost, though perhaps not entirely, a woman’s issue. A writer friend of mine recently retired from her day job, thrilled to have so much more time to write. It hasn’t gone well.
Like many of us before, she discovered that having lost her routine—which included pockets of solitary thinking, a commute that presented opportunities for creativity, and familiar time management techniques—she is accomplishing less. Add to that a partner who is also retired and overjoyed to have time with her, and she struggles with her writing.
Luckily her situation isn’t unique and she will undoubtedly resolve it. I did. If you have similar issues, here are some things that worked for me.
- Create a new routine. Schedules don’t have to be imposed you can create one.
- Carve out writing time. Discuss it with your partner. Make sure s/he agrees to a time that works for both of you.
- Reassure that person that together time is a priority and plan for it.
- BUT Protect your writing time. Agree to signals that work: a sign on the door, music playing, some sign that you are in your writing space.
- I repeat, protect your time. Mute phones when writing. Let colleagues, chatty friends, and even children and grandchildren (if you are lucky enough to have them) know your schedule. In my case, that means I don’t answer their calls during my time. Keep it on your calendar so you don’t schedule appointments for those hours. Refuse invitations that conflict.
- Carve out writing space, your own place where you put the things that feed your muse and the tools of your trade. If you share a household make sure your partner has equal space, just not in the same room or on top of yours. Name it. Label it. Make it yours. I call mine “the Conservatory;” I describe his as “here there be dragons.”
- Make room for the quiet that allows your muse to push story ideas to the surface: solitary walks, bubble baths, baking, gardening, yoga. Story telling doesn’t happen only at the keyboard. Do what works for you.
- Nurture yourself—you can’t be creative unless you exercise well, eat well, sleep well.
The beauty of being unemployed is I can control my time and my work. I admit God likes to throw curve balls. When that happens, I smile and adjust because I control my schedule; it doesn’t control me.