How to remain devoted to your craft.
Balancing time to work, write, and live.
I’ve been a professional writer for a little over two years now and one of the things that always seems to get in the way of writing as much as I would like is life. Just like you, I have a life. In fact, we all have lives. As writers, we can’t write around the clock because then we would run out of ideas, inspiration, and the bills won’t get paid. But, what we can do is begin to balance our times so that we can fit in everything that we would like.
Without balancing time, it’s easy to feel like you’ve given up on your craft or you aren’t making progress, but I’m here to tell you that as long as you have the nagging need to write something then you will always be a writer. So, place your worries to the side and realize that writing is a portion of who you are no matter how long you stop you will always be able to start. If you’re an amazing writer, you’ll be able to pick up where you left off.
The first step to balancing your time is to start with handling all of your priorities. Don’t try to write if your mind is wondering about how things are going to get paid off, the groceries you need to buy, and all of the errands you have to run. Writing happens best when it is distraction free. If you eliminate your priorities from your day then you will have hours to devote to your craft without any interruptions. Handling priorities helps to clear your mind and the stress of what should be, or what hasn’t been is off of the table.
Next, you should aim to check off at least one to two writing goals from your boxes. Personally, I’ve committed to reading five chapters in a week, editing the work of at least one of my peers, posting one article, and then tweaking any chapters of my novels. All of these are in target areas that I know I want to continue grow in. These goals are tangible because no matter how tired, or hungry, or depleted from work I am I can still accomplish all of them over the course of my four days off while still living.
Your goals should be plausible and allow you room to breathe. You should be able to complete your goals even if you skip a day or two from the craft. And, remember, that everything small adds up. An article per week will eventually become a collection which can be curated into an e-book. By being task oriented, one by one you’re going to complete goals with all of your energy directed towards it so your work is going to be of greater quality than it would be if you were scatter brained.
Realize that life happens and if you can’t complete all of your goals for the week then you have to tone it down some. You have the room to bring some of your goals back and remake them to fit your time as well as needs. Having an even balance means that you allow yourself to make mistakes and be human. Don’t force yourself to do too much because you’ll raise your expectations too high. You don’t want to feel as if you’ve failed so give yourself room to make mistakes.
And, always, always, always get the proper rest and eat good food. If you don’t rest then you aren’t awake enough to write your best. Life does happen, but you have to prioritize your bodily needs. The higher quality of your rest then the more likely you are to make quality work. If you’re stumbling tired all over the keyboard then your work will show and nobody will be engaged with your words. It’s important to not only get 8–9 hours of sleep, but to also eat great meals. Your mind can exist in a state of anxiety if you aren’t feeding yourself properly. This can lead to all kinds of health issues so do not feel like you have to neglect food in order to write the next best piece. It’s a serious issue if you’re skipping dinner to produce work, do not do that.
Lastly, live a little! As a writer, when you are away from your work for a while you’re going to gain so much more inspiration for short stories and pieces when you’re basking in the joys of life. Writing can’t be the end all, be all. There has to be a happy medium between your work, writing, and life itself. If not, you’ll feel unbalanced and a portion of you will go to the wayside.
The days that you aren’t at work or aren’t writing should be spent enjoying time with family, going places, shopping, and taking nature baths. All of these are key to ensure that your writing is of the best quality. If not, then you’ll feel as if your articles are the same all the time, you aren’t bringing variety to your chapters, and you aren’t enhancing your skillset. Time away from writing is just as important as time spent.
And, if you are reading this article then you are a phenomenal writer by default because you wanted more advice on how to manage it all. Trust me, if you’re full time working anywhere between 30–40 hours per week you can feel too tired to do anything which is why your goals should be in different areas of the craft; thus, I spend some time reading as my body rests. But, more than that, you have to spend some kind of time writing in order to progress in your career. You don’t want to feel as if you’ve forgotten your skillset or you can’t do it in peace. So, I highly suggest managing life by being task oriented in order to see the results tomorrow.