One of my lovely followers Holly Davis suggested I write a post on balancing school/work life with writing. I pondered treating this as a personal post about my own job and finding time to write, but then I thought it might be better to share my favourite tips about it first.
Tipping the Scales
- Self-compassion. This, I believe, is fundamental to success in any area in anybody’s life. If you criticise yourself for not meeting a writing target or a word count by a certain time or day, it isn’t going to change the fact that you didn’t make it! Jot down your reasons and make adjustments. Were you procrastinating? Are you blocked? Were you unexpectedly busy? Did you overestimate your time management? Two words: Who isn’t?
- Planning. Drawing from above, plan your time and be flexible with it. Plan what you want to write, and I don’t mean the topic or word count. I mean are you starting something new or revising something old? For example, I know that I’m not writing anything for my novel currently because I need a lot of space and time that my job doesn’t currently allow. But I might plan to write a blog post or a little note to keep up my inspiration and motivation!
- Take the advantage. It is 2018 and that means we can take our writing anywhere, any time. I’m very precious over notebooks and pens, so having my phone to hand with notes on is much more friendly for me. For commuters out there you might find yourself sat on a train or a bus, use it to write or do research! Apps now let us schedule posts and save things for later, so make your writing work around you. My phone has been a lifesaver in catching those random ideas I can’t afford to forget.
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving. – Albert Einstein.
I work in the NHS here in England as a Trainee Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP). That means that I attend university on a Wednesday, have coursework with a 5 o’clock deadline on a Monday and have work 9-5 on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On top of that, I will have submitted four 1500 word essays, sat two exams, submitted three clinical portfolios, and completed two observed practice assessments and a ten minute presentation. My university course runs from April-October and I am contracted to my job until March 2019. As you can imagine, I don’t have a lot of free time!
This is where I can go down one of two routes: I do absolutely nothing and end up shelving my WIP, or I write thousands of words in the spare moments I do find. Camp NaNoWriMo April saw me write 15,000 words in my WIP, go from 0-334 followers on Instagram and post 97 times. May came and went without any additional writing, 200 more followers and 62 more posts. It’s now mid-June and I have only just launched my site, Facebook Page and begun Chapter One of Eleri’s Kingdom. I write all of this, not to brag about social media or my ability to write quickly, but to point out that life is not linear. I could not have kept up my writing without an inflexible structure and inspiration that had, to be truthful, waned somewhat when I hit a crossroads with the layout. May would never look like April, and June isn’t looking like either! This is why my first tip is self-compassion. I wouldn’t be here without my lovely followers, but I also wouldn’t be here if I’d berated myself and forced myself to write when I didn’t have the energy. If I have a 60,000+ word first draft by Christmas, I will be ecstatic.
Goal setting is pretty essential if you want to have a balanced life. As a writer or author, you will most likely have goals around your work. Having goals around your personal life, your other hobbies, and perhaps your career will make having that balance a bit easier. I love how many of my followers and friends are book lovers as well as writers because reading is the perfect way to mix research with relaxation! And I know that those guys have TBR piles that are sky high and write fantastic reviews and blog posts – those are all goal-orientated. As a pantser in life and literature, I do as I please and I love what I do. Goals are something my ambitious self (yes, I’m a Slytherin) demands from me to keep me moving upwards as well as forwards. Comment your goals and favourite ways to spend downtime below! Oh, and please let me know what you thought of the post and what kind of content you’d be interested in. I’ll leave you with my goals for the rest of June 2018.
Outline and draft chapters one-five of Eleri’s Kingdom.
Plan blog posts: twice weekly, two different categories e.g. Monday – book review, Thursday – writing/personal post.
Read five new novels and reread five old ones.