I know it’s been a while since I’ve been able to post anything, so I figured, as I’m trying to make time to come back to blogging (and especially to working on my fiction) after starting a new teaching job, it made sense to focus on a topic that has really been on my mind this week and even for the last few months:
How do we make time to write when THERE IS NO TIME????
There are so many things that pull all writers in different directions. Some of us struggle with the stresses that come along with financial issues, or problems at work, or sick loved ones, or even personal illnesses.
So many of us have demanding jobs, especially in this economy which seems, in almost every industry, to have multiplied the demands made of workers who are, at the same time, experiencing hiring freezes and pay raise freezes at their companies.
So many have of us have young children, and thus not only the responsibility, but also the fruitful and loving joy of teaching and nurturing them, while we learn from them at the same time.
It’s easy–and some cases, justifiable and even necessary–to put writing on the back burner. It happens. I’m not talking here about situations where there is a moral responsibility to be focusing on other things.
I’m talking about those times when we are capable of making time to write, when nothing is holding us back, but it’s a difficult and daunting task to get organized. Here are some tips I have found to be helpful to me, personally.
1. STOP THE GUILT.
It is okay that you want to write. You are not wrong or selfish for wanting to take time to write. If you need to, sit down and ask yourself the important questions: If I set aside half an hour a day, or even an hour, would that be causing harm to someone else? Would it be forcing me to neglect a serious responsibility or duty? Would it negatively impact my job performance or prevent me from succeeding at work?
If the answers to these questions are NO, then there is no reason to feel guilty about writing, so shut down that voice that is whispering, “Who are you to deserve writing time?” You do deserve it.
Maybe unfounded guilt is not a struggle for you, but it can be for me. And I found it helped me to just look at the situation objectively, so that I had defenses against and responses to the accusations of that “inner editor.”
2. SET REASONABLE GOALS. AND START SMALL.
It’s important not to consider how much you’d LIKE to be writing a day, but how much is reasonable. A lot of things factor into this…. Maybe an hour a day is reasonable. Maybe half an hour is, max, but you can set a goal to squeeze in fifteen or twenty minutes. Maybe Mondays and Tuesdays are killer for you, and writing those days isn’t feasible, but you can set goals to write Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
The key here? Work with what you have, and try not to feel like you should be able to do more. I am now trying to write for an hour a night after teaching all day and putting in a few hours worth of post-school work: preps, grading, writing tests and quizzes, etc.
This past week, for the first time since starting my new job, I felt settled enough to attempt working on my fiction. I gave myself time to feel out what my new situation was before I set writing goals. Because I set feasible ones, I’m feeling better emotionally and feeling more confident not only about writing, but also about work.
3. MAKE SURE YOU SCHEDULE YOUR WRITING TIME FOR WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.
Generally, I prefer to write in the morning. But, I was already getting up early to get things done for school, and couldn’t fathom getting up earlier.
I realized, though, that if I wrote for an hour or so before bed, I could use that time to decompress and reward myself for getting through the day. Writing at night is also good for me because of the guilt factor I personally struggle with.
If I tried to write in the morning, I would feel HORRIBLE: that should be school time. Work time. But if I teach first, and then get everything ready for the next day, then I know I’m okay to write. I don’t have that cloud of guilt hanging over me, because I have things set up for the next round of classes and I have some time built in the next morning, before classes, to look over everything and make any adjustments I feel I need to.
4. REMIND YOURSELF WHY YOU ARE WRITING.
Is writing a hobby for you? If that’s so, remember that when things get overwhelming. Remember that when you need to make a choice between writing and something that might be more important to you.
If you’re like me, and writing is a passion, a need, and a calling, then use that to find motivation on the days when you’re tired. On the days when the words won’t come. I personally hope the stories of the characters I love in Herezoth–their tales of sacrifice, perseverance, responsibility, and dignity–will, down the road, inspire or touch someone. I hope my books might remind someone of what’s really important. That’s why I write. And reminding myself of that really helped motivate me this week to get back to the keyboard.
Victoria Grefer is the author the Herezoth trilogy, which begins with “The Crimson League” and has new editions coming out next Summer.