Friday, January 23, 2015

Writing while swamped

Different writers divide their time differently - but all of us have big, important things in our life that have nothing to do with writing.

(Unless you have decided to eschew human contact and live a life of quiet reflection in the mountains. In which case, you presumably still have to go hunt for your food to store for the long winter months ahead, so you also have some stuff to take care of.)

And those big, important, non-writing things? Can sometimes end up taking over most of your free time. My year got off to a pretty shaky start writing-wise as my day job picked up steam significantly, but three weeks into the new year, I think I have finally carved out a balance.

This post is not necessarily for those looking to take their manuscript to word count bootcamp - I tend to save that frenzy for deadlines. This is a kinder, gentler, 'take care of your brain or it will turn against you' time management post. Here are some of the things that work for me when non-writing life gets taxing:

Plan around your most productive time. For the intrepid early birds of the 5am Writers Club, the crack of dawn can be an extremely productive time. For me, less so. I've found that, when I have a free day, I get the most done between 9am and early afternoon, before that post-lunch crash - so when my day is less than free, I try to work as much writing into the first part of the day as possible. Though my lunch break is on the later side of this window, it's generally the best time to get some serious word count in.

Which brings me to my next point...

Extended that routine to everything else! Though 'don't skip lunch' seems like a pretty simple directive... really, don't skip lunch. If you need to have a reminder on your phone at a certain time telling you to drop whatever you're doing and go get your sandwich, that can be helpful. (I have found it pretty helpful from time to time.)

Allow for forgiveness. This is why I tend towards weekly goals instead of daily ones, since it leaves space to skip a writing session if I need to decompress and make up for it the next time around. But it also means reminding yourself that if you fall a little short, that's okay. You're not a machine. You can readjust later!

Remember that this is the best reason to pursue projects you love and are passionate about. You're making the time for your writing, so that's all the more reason to make sure it's the kind of writing you want to do, rather than the kind you worry that you should be doing. If you're not excited about it, then don't be afraid to make changes as needed.

Have fun, everyone, and happy writing!

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