You may have noticed that we ask everyone who joins our mailing list what is holding them back from being a successful writer. Something that keeps cropping up, unsurprisingly, is finding the time to write and juggling it with a busy lifestyle.
This article will be a little different than usual because I’m going to mostly talk about my own experiences and how I try (and sometimes fail) to fit writing into an already hectic schedule. To be honest right from the start, I often don’t manage as much writing time as I would like to. I think most of us wish we could spend more time doing this rewarding activity. Unfortunately, life gets in the way and the reality is that most of us have other responsibilities that need to take priority. Very few writers have the luxury of being able to devote all their time to writing – and those who do are living an elusive dream!
I have two main responsibilities that take up the majority of my time. The first is my full-time job as a graphic designer during the week. The second is running Firewords, along with Jen, on the evenings and weekends. Though it’s rewarding to publish our own literary magazine, it is also extremely time-consuming and uses up a lot of our creative energy. As well as producing the actual magazine (and everything this entails), Jen and I also take it in turns writing these weekly articles, which is at least some form of a regular writing habit that I have in place! All these commitments don’t leave much time for my own fiction writing and sometimes it does get left by the wayside. Every now and then I need to remind myself that this creative output is something I enjoy and is worth the effort of setting aside the time to do it.
Beating myself up for not writing enough or, even worse, feeling guilty for writing when I have other things that need to be done, is never helpful or healthy. I think I do a pretty good job of balancing everything, but sometimes I do get it wrong and I need to be able to forgive myself when I do. If you ever feel like this too, ease up on yourself because you are probably your own worst critic and hardest taskmaster: I know I am.
The way I approach writing has been key to getting it right. It’s easy for it to become just another chore to be crossed off the daily, ever-growing to-do list and then to feel guilty every time writing doesn’t happen. It’s important to view the act of writing as truly enjoyable and any time you manage as a break from real life. However short or infrequent these times are – even if just 10 minutes before bed or 5 minutes on the bus – they are worthwhile and should be celebrated.
So when do I write? Well, the perfect time I have found is in the early hours of the morning. This period before the world wakes up and all is quiet is ideal for getting in the zone for some distraction-free writing. Now I’m not saying that getting up at 5am for a few hours of writing before work is by any means easy (especially when it’s cold outside and bed is a warm haven) or something that I manage every day, but when I do get into this routine I always enjoy the feeling of having a special few hours purely for writing. I’ll probably do a whole article on the topic of waking up early in the future because there are so many benefits and it really helps with leading a balanced and creatively-fulfilled lifestyle.
Until then, keep at it and don’t think you are alone in not having enough hours in the day to achieve everything you want. Most of us are in a constant battle to find that elusive balance.