Recently, I ran into a fellow writer who was discouraged about not having any time to write due to starting up a full-time job for the first time in years. I understand the writer’s pain. When a story is aching to get out of you, it literally hurts until you are able to sit down and write it out. However, when commitments and responsibilities pile up, time fades quickly and having writing time begins to feel like a luxury that all too often is shuffled aside.
Last year, I went from a part-time job of 15-20 hours a week to my first full-time job. I’ve worked multiple part-time jobs at once, but never a full-time until last year and the prospect of having any time at all to write was bleak. Like really bleak, so I understand why the writer was depressed and worried about not having enough time to write. But finding time to write is possible. You just have to want it enough. I heard once that you have to ask yourself if you are you a writer or do you just play at writing? You have to choose to write. You have to choose to turn off the TV and take out that notebook and get to work, but sometimes, the choosing is a challenging process.
When I first began working full-time, I was depressed about not having any time to write in the evenings after working all day, commuting, cooking dinner, cleaning the house and doing laundry. I barely had time with my husband, much less write. Sigh. So, I gave up writing for five months. Five LONG months. I felt like I was going to die for the lack of writing and that’s when I had a moment.
I realized that I had placed unrealistic expectations on myself. My husband didn’t expect me to work full-time and be the perfect housewife and follow my dreams of becoming an author on top of it all…it was just me. I was placing all this pressure on myself that was unnecessary. When I realized that, it was freeing. So, I pushed through my exhaustion and chose to let the laundry go to pot. And the dishes…pretty much the whole house until the weekends when I could whip it back into shape with my husband and I started writing again and didn’t stop.
During the week, I made sure I kept a notebook on me just in case I had a sentence that came to mind that I didn’t want to lose and outlined on my lunch breaks. During the evenings, I wrote from 8pm until 10pm and sometimes 12am. Going five months without writing is terrible and hopefully, I’ll never have to go through that again. Some days, I was too tired to get the full amount accomplished, but I kept my word count goals flexible as to not drive myself crazy and I told myself that at least I was writing again. In 5 months, praise the Lord, I finished my novel. After printing out my final copy for submission to an agent, I felt a little like Joe March from Little Women when she ties her manuscript with string and delicately slips a flower into the loop.
However, my novel had been through a zillion edit sessions, so it wasn’t quite so magical as a handwritten single draft book on pretty, aged paper, but it still felt so good and very close to magical.
Scheduling your writing time tips:
Saturday and Sunday: Try getting up 2 hours earlier than your spouse and/or your kids. In the evening, when everyone is settled in, write another hour or two if possible.
Weekdays: Outline on your lunch break and prep for your evening writing time and for the weekends. If you outline well, you can hammer out a massive word count that makes up for missed time during the week. (I have a blog on outlining and word counts scheduled for next week, so I’ll cover more on how to outline there.) Also, write for an hour or two after dinner if possible, but if you are too tired, try to write for 30 minutes just to keep your creative thoughts flowing.
I know it would be hard for writers with children to keep such late hours, but the morning hours during the week and weekends might work best for you before the little ones are up and ready for your attention.
Have you ever been so overwhelmed that you had to put writing away for a time? As a writer with a full-time job or a writer with kids, do you have any tips on how you fit writing into your schedule?
(Top) Photo Cred: Unsplash.com