I know it’s still June and I just did one of these, but I’ve missed several. So, I want to catch up. Plus, they’re good topics! So I’m going to work my way backwards through them for the next few weeks.
May: Life is busy, sometimes often insane. How do you find the time to write within your life?
Here’s the thing — life is always going to be insanely busy, especially as we get older and we start to build our own professional careers / families. And if we, as writers, don’t figure out ways to manipulate our schedules in order to “find” the time to write? The book we keep saying we’re going to write, will never be written. And we’ll have no one to blame at that point but ourselves.
And that, my friends, is why I keep saying “find” time in quotes. Because the time is there; we all have the same 24 hours in every single day. You can’t magically think more minutes into your day or more days into your week. Thus, you need to prioritize the time you do have and make time for the things that are important to you. Which, hopefully, will be writing.
I’m sure there are articles and videos and books written about how to maximize your time and be your most productive you (in fact, I know there are because I have one on my shelf called The 4-hour Work Week). But, that’s not necessarily what I’m looking to do. I’m just trying to make myself find time for writing. So, with that in mind, the first thing I would recommend would be to sit down every evening just before bed for a full week and map out your time that day. Hour-by-hour. Honestly. If you sat on your couch staring at the wall for two hours? Chart it. If you took a six-hour nap on Saturday, two hours after waking? Put it on the graph. The more honest you are, the better your information and new schedule will be in the end. Then after those seven days, analyze what you’ve found. My schedule is weird right now since it’s summer vacation. But, I did this the first week that I was not at school (with students), but had 4 days of training to attend on campus. There are several reasons why this was not the best choice for me, since I don’t have a consistent day-job to attend, and I was exhausted from the last two / three months of school and was sleeping much more than normal to make up for it. But, I took what I saw from my schedule that week and set my rough idea of an “ideal week” up with the knowledge that I do not currently have a consistent day-job to attend. It’s just a vague outline that would get me more on the right track towards writing more and maybe not spending so much time on YouTube without doing something else at the same time.
I honestly learned a lot by looking at my schedule critically like this. Like the fact that I work every day. Even over the summer. That isn’t healthy. And that was JUST time working on things for school. I figured in anything for my Etsy shop into the “planning” category. Also, that I spent a lot of time that week sleeping. But, as mentioned above, it was me just enjoying my first week of summer and not really typical of my normal sleeping habits (which are usually 10pm – 5am over the summer and no sporadic naps throughout the day (so 12 hours less normally than I slept the week I was tracking). I wasn’t really surprised to see how much time I spent on YouTube / Gaming without multitasking… The green category, however? That was surprising to me. I consider that time my “essentials” time. That’s when I would shower, cook, eat, clean, tend my garden, and take care of my dogs. The fact that I’m spending almost as much time on that during the week — and most of it is nonnegotiable! — as a second full time job was astounding. And… it made sense why my apartment is always messiest during the school year. But, unless I get rid of my dogs, my garden, or become independently wealthy enough to hire a cook / cleaner, that isn’t time I can change.
You can see my rough “outline” of an ideal week for me in the black there. I tried to be realistic. It’s summer. I don’t want to “chain” myself to work (be it school, Etsy, or writing) during every waking moment. I want to be able to lay on the couch and read a book if I want to. I want to be able to get lost in a video game for 4-6 hours if I feel like it. I’d like to be able to sleep until 6a… Because those are things I don’t have the opportunity to do when I’m back to working 10-12 hour days again. But, at the same time… Summer is my main time to write. So, I do want to make sure I get some quality time in my universe during June and July. I’ve included a few places there where I might be able to fit it in, but I also did something else this summer in order to make sure I am actually writing, and that is to create a challenge on WriYe relating to this exact topic. Every week this summer (and even my first week back at work in August), I am encouraging myself and all the other WriYe people to follow a different professional author’s established writing routine. Yes, this was a very selfish challenge, as I struggle to figure out how I want to incorporate writing into my own life. But, it has definitely been an enlightening one for me… And hopefully others as well.
At the end of the summer, I should have an idea of a few things — first, what my “ideal week” would look like as a full time writer, and second, how to make time in my life to continue being a “full time” writer alongside my day job. And, even if what that boils down to is waking up at 4am daily to get an hour’s worth of words in before work every morning and spending a few hours every weekend to get “the rest” in on my days off (and stop working 7 days a week!) in order to make time for my writing.