Have you ever counted the exact amount of hours you have to yourself each day, then panicked, obsessively breaking them down into specific tasks and time slots in order to determine how much time you have left for creativity? Sounds psychotic. Also sounds like the life of a writer with a full-time job. It isn’t easy.
I am by no means an expert in terms of writing or time management. I’m still learning the ropes, seeing what works best for me. This post is more for myself than for readers to follow, but if you find this list helps you manage your own writing time – then I’m glad to have helped. So what are some ways writers can carve time out of their busy schedules to focus on their goals?
1. Wake up earlier than necessary.
When I was working in Manhattan, I never had the opportunity to sit down, eat a normal breakfast, and make use of the early part of my morning. Since switching to a more local workplace, I’ve been able to wake up earlier and work on writing projects while my mind is at its freshest. I’m finding that this is a great way to start the day, especially since you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something as early as 7 AM. And this little boost might encourage you to accomplish even more things throughout the day.
2. Choose several nights per week that are off limits to everyone.
This is the thing I struggle with most. It’s vexing enough to juggle multiple writing projects with a full-time job and general adult responsibilities, like cleaning an apartment. But the more people you’re close to, the harder it is to make time for yourself. It seems someone always wants to do something, and you either feel guilty saying no, or you genuinely would rather be out guzzling beer and eating wings. But you need to learn how to say no. Pick several nights during the week that you absolutely must get work done, and make this non-negotiable.
3. Take full advantage of your weekends.
It’s much easier to juggle relationships, responsibilities, and writing on the days you don’t spend 8 hours focused on something else entirely. Cherish these days. That, unfortunately, means not staying out all night and sleeping in all day.
4. Plan what you want to work on ahead of time.
Did you ever sit down to write, only to find that your brain can’t focus on just one idea? This happens to me a lot. I suspect it’s because I have so many neglected ideas while I’m busy that they all start shoving their way to the front of the line when it’s finally time to write something. So if you can, take a few moments before your designated writing period and make a list or outline of exactly what you’ll be focusing your energy on. Then you just need to stick to it.
5. Utilize your breaks.
If you’re fortunate enough to get a lunch break, take it. If your job offers smoking breaks, take them. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, try to use this time in a way that benefits you. Make that list I mentioned in #4. Draft an outline. Edit your work. Take your breaks, and make them count for something.
6. Stop refreshing social media.
This point is especially important for people, like me, who write on their laptops or in the notes section of their phone more often than on actual paper. The internet is right there, practically begging to be browsed. Notifications are popping up, and also, did you really market your blog enough today? Better just make sure. Except if you spend so much time checking your e-mail and social media accounts, you’ll soon be out of content to post. So shut that shit off, even if you need to download one of the apps that bans it for you.
So those are the things I’ve been trying to work on. It’s not always fun, saying “no” to plans and spending off-time doing extra work, but these are choices you need to make if you’re serious about writing.
What do you guys do to make time for writing? If you have any tips, I’d be delighted to hear (and possibly steal) them!