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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Making Good Use of All Your Time
by Shelley Wake

Do you have as much writing time as you need? Do you suffer from constant interruptions and a hectic family life?

One thing that can be worked into this busy schedule is idea management.

Managing ideas will help you do two important things; make use of your busy time and make sure your writing time is not wasted.

There are four things you need to do to make the best use of your busy time:

1. Realize you do have time to think.
2. Learn to focus your thinking.
3. Learn to capture your ideas.
4. Learn to recognize ideas.

Time To Think

If you have only a few hours of writing time a day, there is one sure way to waste it: thinking.

Thinking is wasting time. Thinking of story ideas, thinking through plots, trying to come up with that clever ending. This kind of thinking can't be forced, it comes at its own pace, and it often come while you are doing other things.

How many good ideas do you have in the shower? Or when you take a walk? Thinking is done best when you are not concentrating on it.

You've heard the phrase, 'I haven't even got time to think.' It is never true. Thinking continues no matter how busy you are. Every single moment of your waking life is spent thinking.

But to be useful, you need to focus your thinking.

Focusing Your Thinking

To focus your thinking you will need just ten minutes of free time.

Use this time to decide what it is you need to think about. If it is the ending to a story you have written, read over the story. If you need to come up with a story idea for a publication, read over the guidelines. If it is the angle on an article, read over the article details. If it's a competition, read the competition details. If it is a greeting card, pick a particular occasion.

Then the entire day, let your thought process go. Play with your kids, cook, clean, go shopping. And all the time your thoughts will continue.

Now when writing time rolls around you should have your ideas all figured out, it should all be clear in your mind.

Then you can spend that precious writing time writing.

Capturing Ideas

Everything you see, do and hear can be an inspiration for a story, a play, a poem or an article. If you are not paying attention good ideas can be lost without you ever realizing they were there.

But, if you make it part of your focus, you will notice them. Once you notice them, you need to make sure you don't lose them. You have to learn to capture them.

Making them a focus is easy, you just have to set yourself up to collect them.

The simple rule is to carry a notepad everywhere. Write anything down that comes to your mind.

Use your own special touches to make collecting ideas more special to you.

Small boxes and small colorful notepads work wonders. Place boxes in convenient locations in your house. The more the box appeals to you, the better. When you have an idea write it down and place it in the nearest box. At the end of the month, collect your box, empty out your ideas and search through, looking for ideas that are worth following up. You can then schedule your ideas for the month. Each time you sit down to write you have your ideas ready to work on.

And keep the old ideas too, you never know when they might spark something wonderful.

Photo boxes are a great tool for organizing these ideas. Use the photo dividers to divide idea types.

The Idea Game

If you have kids, here's an even better way. It gets them involved and it makes a great little something you can share together.

Tissue boxes make ideal idea boxes. Buy ones as light in color as possible and then get your kids to decorate them. The ideas slide in nicely through the tissue hole. And not being able to get them out makes the unveiling of ideas much more fun.

At the end of the month, it is time to tear open the box and check through your ideas. While you read through them checking your ideas, the kids get to decorate the next tissue box.

They are happy and occupied, they help you make a pretty box, and you get time to go through the ideas. And if you're lucky, your kids will be jealous of you putting your pretty papers into the box and want to put their own in.

Finding some surprise words or a surprise picture from your kids may just give you that spark of an idea you need for your next story.

Ideas Are Everywhere

Going to the art gallery or the museum for ideas sounds wonderful, and it may work, but you don't need to. A mind open to ideas can find them anywhere. Words are everywhere. Add a little creativity and you can find that something special.

A brochure gets sent to you in the mail, with the words 'please reply within 21 days' printed on it. You start thinking to yourself, how serious would a question have to be for someone to ask and give you 21 days to reply? And the imagination is sparked and a story is born.

A can of soup has a phone number on the back saying, 'call this number for suggestions on appropriate disposal.' You can't help but wonder how many options there are for how to dispose of a tin can, you didn't know there were any, and an article is born.

Ideas are everywhere and thinking of them does not take any family time away from you. No matter what you are doing, you can be searching for ideas. After a while, you won't have to search, you will just recognize them when you see them.

Thinking through things while you are doing your daily duties doesn't stop you from doing those duties. And it probably helps you with your thoughts.

You can think things through and have your ideas in family time. And use all your writing time just for writing.

The only trick is to make sure you capture your ideas. Set up a fun system, even one that involves your kids and you have just combined your family time with work time in a way that works for everyone.

Shelley Wake is a freelance writer based in Australia. Working full-time from home, Shelley's motto is, "If it has words, I can write it." Her serious writing time is spent writing feature articles, training materials, Web content and anything else that comes her way. Her specialty subjects are science, health and business. She most enjoys writing fiction and writing for kids. She currently has several children's picture books on the way. Her first love in life is writing. Her second love is her family, who make her writing career possible.









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