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How to Balance Writing and Life

Hi Jade,

Creating a balance between making art and fulfilling life’s responsibilities is something many writers struggle with. But solving this problem comes down to two things: time management and creating good habits.

Manage Your Time

First, figure out how you’re spending your time already. I’ll use my own schedule as an example: my alter ego teaches high school English. On my less-productive days, I get up at 5:30 and leave for work at 6:45. I work until 3:15, and then I go home and veg, read or watch tv, cook dinner, and work out. To get more writing in, I have to cut out the unnecessary things. I can’t cut out work, but I can write a little on my lunch break. I can also keep TV to a minimum.

Try to figure out something you’re doing every day, like watching TV, that you can do without. Replace that with some writing time.

But remember: don’t neglect socializing and self care. Writing can be very emotionally intense, so you need to make time for things that restore you.

Create a Writing Habit

I’ve heard a lot of advice over the years on when, where, and how to write. I had one professor who got up at 4:30 every morning to get his pages in. I tried this and fell back to sleep every time.

Other people swear by word count goals. If you have a goal in mind every day, you may be more inclined to finish projects. For other people, this ends up making them over-write everything.

You can also create rituals. Writing nooks, special pens, scented candles, a particular coffee shop — these can all help you create your particular writing spot. For many, the repetition of these contexts can create a sort of Pavlovian response: light the candles, open the notebook, and the words automatically flow.

The main thing is: do what works best for you. Try a few things until you hit that sweet spot.

For more tips, I also wrote about this on my blog:

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