Making Time for Creative Writing When You Write for a Living
My life gets pretty chaotic. Kids need a ride from here to there. Projects await. The house is always there, and almost always needs attention. And I admit that I also like a little me time — and if I don’t honor that desire, I claim it anyway, almost by accident. I start watching a show on TV and find myself caught up in a marathon, and after a few episodes, I’m left to wonder where my day went.
Sometimes I convince myself that I can't fit in writing time. And yet it’s my writing that I’m eternally trying to fit in. I don’t try to squeeze in a television marathon — there is always time for that. But my writing, the core of my identity, and the very essence of who I am, that’s the thing I sometimes don’t find time for.
And yet it’s my writing that I’m eternally trying to fit in. I don’t try to squeeze in a television marathon — there is always time for that.
And if you write for a living, the last thing you probably want to see at the end of the day is more words. Yet, you got into this business in the first place because you loved writing. So how can you make time for your passion projects?
Put Your Own Writing First
It may seem a little counterintuitive, but when I put my writing first, every day just goes a whole lot better. What I mean is that when I make writing the focus of the day and let all of that other stuff fall in where it may, I am more productive, more motivated, and more satisfied.
But how do we put writing first?
First, determine when your best writing time is.
You know this already, but recognize it officially. I write best in the morning, so morning is when I need to clear up writing time. The trick is that my morning starts early — I have a day job that begins at 7 a.m. — but with some preparation the night before, I can get up at 5 a.m. and spend 75 minutes doing nothing but writing (and drinking coffee!).
Know your default schedule.
It doesn’t do much good to plan writing when you know you’ll have to be in the elementary school car line, or on those days it falls on you to prepare supper, or during homework help time. Our time pictures are generally pretty fixed by factors beyond our control, like our regular working hours, the school schedule, and our household flow. Know what’s necessary and what you might be able to do away with, and amend your schedule accordingly.
Know your body’s rhythms.
It would be a mistake to schedule writing time after lunch if you know already that you’ll feel groggy then. It would also be a mistake to save it for bedtime if you know you need to tune out distractions to get a good night’s sleep. Pay attention to your body’s rhythms for a whole day. When is your motivation at its highest? Your creativity? Block out that time for your creative projects.
Set a modest time goal.
Notice that my plan calls for me to write for only 75 minutes. I could write all day — but the regular time I know I have is during that 75-minute time slot. If I plan to always use that time, I can fit in more writing throughout the day as spots of time occur. If not, no worries: I’ve already accomplished my 75 daily minutes.
Have a regular place to complete your writing time.
If you always sit in the same chair in front of the same desk every day at 5 a.m., your body and brain will quickly learn what is expected then. Going to that regular spot and engaging in the same activity — writing — will help you to gear up quickly and get more done.
Every writer is different, and the times and places we schedule our writing will vary, too. But by putting writing first, and by letting the rest of our responsibilities fit in around it, we can help to ensure our productivity and success.