One of the biggest challenges as a writer that I’ve faced is trying to make progress while balancing a full time job. Sure, I have many other adulting responsibilities that consume large amounts of my time, like kids, spouse, house, volunteering. But a full time job is a place I spend the majority of my “awake” hours in a single day. This results in giving me fewer “free” hours to disperse among the remaining items on my to-do list and the things I want to spend my time doing.
It can become super easy to use those few “free” remaining hours to do anything other than writing. Unless I make writing a priority. Which is something I’ve decided to do for the last few years.
Writing is something I’m extremely passionate about. It’s something I enjoy and I love spending my time doing. It’s an area in my life where I feel like I’m doing something I was born to do. When I’m writing a project, my soul vibrates and I feel alive. And because of these things, (and more) I have made a decision to make writing a priority in my life.
If that’s you too, I hope you’ll find these tips helpful:
Get up early – If you know you typically need to be up at 6 a.m. to begin getting ready for work, I suggest waking up an hour earlier. I’m not a morning person but this is something I’ve been practicing for over a year and have grown to love. For me, since I’m a mom, this is the only time in the day when my house is quiet. A cup of coffee + a laptop or notebook in front of me + a quiet house = progress. There’s a supportive community on Twitter: #5amwritersclub. Never underestimate the power of a quiet home and the kind of creativity it can grant you!
Use your breaks – My day job grants me two 15 minute breaks + one 30 minute lunch break. If I’m currently working on a project I’m super excited about and it’s consuming my thoughts, I’ll squeeze in writing time during my work breaks. Writing for those extra 15-45 minutes during the work day can increase my word count/progress. It also allows me to use a creative outlet during a stressful work day.
On your commute – If you work in a big city and take a bus or subway or even carpool to your place of employment, take advantage of the time you’re stuck with nowhere to go. If you don’t feel comfortable bringing your laptop, try typing on your phone or handwriting into a notebook and adding it onto your computer later. If you’re the driver, try a voice recording app that puts your spoken words into a note app, like Day One Journal and Evernote.
Night owl – If you’re like me, nighttime is your most creative time of the day. You’ve checked everything off your to-do list, your family has been taken care of, the day job has been completed, and now your mind is free to create. Depending on the time, or how late, sometimes my house is quiet and sometimes I still have kids up, (teenagers). This time of the day has become hit or miss for me. I’ve found that if it reaches past 8 p.m. and I haven’t made time to write yet, this can be a perfect time for me. There’s a big writing community on Twitter who write at night. I used to be very active on #OwlWriters. Though, have been more of a morning writer the past year or so.
Weekend writers unite – When the day job has been stressful, stealing all creative juices throughout the week, the weekend is sometimes the only opportunity for us to write. If that’s you, the weekends can become a sprint of writing. And you can up your word count and make a considerable amount of progress this way. I know many writers with full time jobs who only write on weekends and they’ve been able to complete several projects this way.
Sneak away – Writing is self-care for me so if I don’t make it a priority, my mental health notices. My family notices too. This means, I have to write. And if I can’t squeeze in the time in any other area I’ve mentioned above, I have to choose me and tear myself away from my other responsibilities. What this usually entails is either, separating myself from others in my household and ask them not to disturb me, go in a quiet space, close the door, and put my headphones on. Or, if I know I won’t get those things, (teenagers-dogs) I leave the house and go to a coffee shop, book cafe, library. The most important thing, making me and my writing a priority.
Writing retreat – Whether this is a stay-in retreat, (I’ve done once and it was heavenly) or an away retreat, this is the ultimate for making writing a priority and making progress. When you attend a writing retreat you have little to zero distractions. Oftentimes, writing retreats are at locations that are more secluded than what you may be used to. This helps in cutting out distractions. Getting out into nature, away from the hustle and bustle of your life and the city. There are writing retreats where you can meet other writers, or you can plan your own. Either way, I look forward to attending a writing retreat soon.
I hope these tips have been helpful. If you’re a writer who also works a full time job, what are ways you squeeze in your writing and make it a priority?