Unless you are one of the lucky few who have made writing their full time job, you either spend all day at work or all day with your children. Sometimes both! (You’re super if you do both.) So when are you supposed to find the time to write? And how can you balance it all without wanting to crawl into a hole?
For me, I need to write. If I go too long without writing, I get anxious. I know plenty of writers who feel the same way. Only, our lives are hectic. Mine has gotten very crazy, which is why I haven’t written a post in the past few months. Recently, I had to step back and reevaluate how to be productive with my time. I came up with a few helpful tips.
- Plan out your time
Treat writing like a job, because it is! You go into work for a certain amount of time, so schedule your writing for a certain amount of time. For me, I work from 8:00 to 3:30. After work, I like to go to the gym. I’m usually home by 6. There’s a coffee shop in my town that’s open until 10. I’ll go and write from about 6-8:30/9. On weekends, I usually work from 11-3. Again, I don’t have children or a family, so it’s a bit easier for me. I know writers who wake up early. There’s a 5am writers club. Even if it’s only 45 minutes, it’s still 45 minutes of writing.
- Give yourself a goal
No matter what you’re working on, you should have a goal. Whether it’s to finish and edit a picture book per month, to win NaNo, to edit a chapter a day, set yourself a goal. Write it down.
- Plan ahead
Sometimes life gets in the way. If you know you’d like to have a certain amount written by a certain time, give yourself leeway. For example, I am writing this post a week in advance because the day it goes up, I will be in Iceland. Since I knew I’d be busy with the trip and the start of the semester, I aimed to finish edits a week ahead of time so I could send them to a beta reader.
- Make a list
For me, giant lists on the whiteboard in my room help keep me motivated and on track. If I know I need to get a few different things done, it’s easier if I separate them out into manageable chunks.
- Research counts as work
Don’t feel guilty if you spent your entire writing time researching. If it’s necessary for you to write the best you can, then it’s part of your work. Writing doesn’t always mean physically writing words. When New York Times Bestselling Author, Marie Lu, was asked to write Batman: Nightwalker she spent days reading and watching all the Batman media available.
- Know when to take a break
Sometimes your creative well can be drained. Life gets in the way. It’s okay to take a break. There is no race when you’re writing. Unless you have a deadline for a publisher, you don’t need to push yourself. Recently I finished a rewrite for a manuscript, but knew it still had a lot of work. Instead of going right back into it, I put the manuscript aside to let the ideas stir. I probably won’t pick it back up for a few weeks. Don’t feel guilty for saying no if someone asks you to beta or critique their work. If it push pressure on you, it’s not fair for either you or the person you’re reading for.
Do you have any tips for finding the time to write? Comment below!
Great tips, happy writing!
I find that it helps to keep my writing space in order. I’m both easily distracted and a procrastinator, so even when I set aside time to write, I can find myself tidying up my space or getting organized when I should be hitting the keyboard. When I manage to keep my area in tip-top shape, I at least remove the “I need everything to be perfect first” excuse.
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You are one of the most talented and prolific writers I know, and I really appreciate your tips!
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Thanks for the ideas.
Thanks for another great post, Dana!
Love these tips!