I used to be quite rigid about my writing time. It had to be in the morning (my head was clearer), it had to be quiet (unless it was a cafe). It had to be at least two hours without interruption. And, if everything lined up exactly right, I was super productive. Trouble is, it took me three years to write my first book.
And then what happened? I became a professional and acquired deadlines. There was never going to be enough perfect moments to get writing done, so I learned to be flexible. I fit writing in whenever and wherever I could. I scribbled on the subway. I wrote at night. I wrote even when my home was full of hub-bub. And I gave myself word count deadlines rather than time deadlines to make sure that my story was always moving forward and the pages were piling up.
I won't lie and say it was easy. But I figured out how to get myself ready long before I sat down to write, and that made all the difference.
I think about my book all the time. No, really. When you see me walking down the street muttering to myself, I know I probably look crazy. I'm not. I'm plotting. I think about my characters and different scenarios to put them in. So when I get a free thirty minutes or less, I can sit down and write a scene or two. Or get started. And then finish it later.
People ask me all the time when I find the time to write. And I have to say honestly that I make the time. I can't remember the last time I sat down to watch television (the Olympics?). But I carve out time to write everyday. Especially when I'm on a deadline.
And if you want to know how I (and 21 other talented writers--including former criminal minds Rebecca Cantrell and Kelli Stanley) plot--I've got an essay in a new book out called Making Story: Twenty-one Writers and How They Plot. It was edited and dreamt up by Tim Hallinan, a talented and generous mystery writer. In it you'll find 21 different ways of tackling a book and making it work. Every writer is different--but we're all finding a way to get it done. And in the end, it's really the book, and not how you got there, that matters.