There is a saying that goes ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person.’ I agree with this statement. The times I have gotten my personal writing done is when I have been busy with other bill paying work. When I find myself with so much free time, I procrastinate and waste time and get very little done, but when I don’t have much free time, then I find ways to squeeze in my personal writing and it works.
It is hard to find work life balance, and even with the COVID season, with kids at home and needing homeschooling it’s meant less time for my writing. But I am determined to not just develop my bill paying projects but also my passion projects.
I am fortunate that my Bill paying projects are all writing related, so my hustle is pretty much on the same lane…writing. Some of you have different types of job and you write at the weekend or perhaps once in a while when the bug hits. If you badly want to make a living with your writing, then you need to find ways to write more, put in the words, create fresh stuff and most importantly see your projects to the end by completing them.
If you’re frustrated because you feel you’re not achieving much in your personal writing, I’ve got a few tips that I use to help me get my personal writing done.
- Be a master of your time and energy: We have all been given 24 hours a day. How do you spend yours? When do you have the most mental energy? Are you a morning person? Are you a night person? If you are a morning person, then you might want to wake up an hour and a half earlier than normal and make the most of the morning before life takes over. If you are an evening person and can still write after a hard day at work, then I suggest you switch off that TV in the evenings and get some writing done for an hour or two before you go to bed.
Also check for the time stealers throughout your day. E.g if you are working fulltime, how about eating your lunch while writing? On the commute to work, if you’re not driving, why not get some writing done? I guess it all goes to how badly do you want to get your writing out here.
2. Plan ahead: A lot of the procrastinating we do is because we haven’t prepared for what we plan to write that day. How about making sure that by the time you stop the writing for the day, you have planned ahead a scene or two and have set them up, this works to psychologically get you excited to come and work, if you come to the table blank, then even your brain protests and not much writing gets done.
Also be careful about staying away too from your project, if for example you work on your project this month, then stay another two months before touching it, I guarantee you by the time you get back to it you will have to refresh yourself to the characters and where you were on the story. This will take several days and becomes time wasted. Strive to touch on your project every other day to avoid this time wasting exercise.
3. Batch your work: Depending on the nature of your current main hustle, it might be easier to just write mornings and evenings and weekends, but for some of us there is a possibility of working for paid work for 3-4 days a week, then dedicating the rest of the days of the week to your personal project. So look at your current work and see how best it suits your writing. The most important thing is that you put those words on the page.
4. Set aside time for research: Don’t do your research during the time you’ve set aside for writing. From experience I’ve found that the minute I key in a google search for something during the writing, I go down a rabbit hole and before I know it, an entire hour is done and the last thing I was reading up on, was some celebrities’ current diet haha! Set aside a specific time for the research, this could be at lunch time or at night. But absolutely not during the time allocated for writing.
5. Re-fill your well: You might not be motivated to write because you’re running on empty. Reading and Writing go hand in hand and if you want your writing to grow you have to constantly read. Also find time to watch some stuff. If you are not reading, you risk ending up running on empty and when you’re on empty you stall. If you want to sharpen your writing skills then read up in various genres, formats. Read read read. Looking for free scripts to read online? Check out www.simplyscripts.com
6. Set deadlines and honour them: There are times that even our self –motivation doesn’t work to get our personal writing done. This is why competitions are always great. I look for online competition for writers, check the deadlines and then work on my project to beat the competition deadline. This has worked for me and I’ve been able to finish projects that I had stalled on. There’s the Berlinale deadline coming up in September. That can be motivation to get your work ready, no? I sometimes also bet with friends, there’s a friend who I once bet with for some glowing powder worth five K, If I didn’t beat my deadline I would buy her the five K glowing powder. My friends, that was enough motivation to beat my deadline, there was no way I was buying powder for KES 5,000 no way lol! It really worked and I never bought that powder. Phew!
7. Be gentle on yourself: I’ve found that sometimes when I’ve put too much pressure on myself I end up dropping some balls, so I remember to occasionally be gentle on myself, but being gentle on myself doesn’t mean I continually allow myself to have excuses for why I’m not developing my own work. It just means that there are seasons of life that are harder than others and when I find myself really struggling through a season, I cut myself some slack.
I hope these few pointers help you get back on track with your writing. Most important to remember is that; when you want something bad enough you will make some sacrifices here and there to make sure you achieve your goals!
Feel free to leave a comment and share some of the tips that have allowed you to find time to write.