PDA

View Full Version : Balancing Writing and Real Life



SaronaNalia
01-25-2012, 09:16 PM
Though I have been writing for most of my life, I have only recently started to take myself seriously. I'm having a hard time learning to balance my writing with everything else in my life. Before, I wrote whenever I had time and was in the mood. Now, I'm certain that if I'm going to be a real writer, I need to be working at a much faster pace.

How do you guys fit writing time into your schedules? How do you avoid getting distracted?

EthanJones
01-25-2012, 09:23 PM
I try to make time to write, although it is not possible every day. We only have so many hours, so something has got to give. Perhaps view your writing as an exercise, like going to the gym or for a walk. You do that for an hour a day and then you go back to the rest of your life.

In terms of avoiding distractions, that would depend on your office or place of writing. A closed door may help or telling your family that you want an hour of writing time without interruptions.

Hope this helps,

Ethan

randi.lee
01-25-2012, 09:24 PM
I look at life with writing the way I look at life with college exams: some things need to be sacrificed in order to succeed. Do you socialize often? I'm not saying becoming a hermit, but try cutting some of the social time out of your day. You talked to your friends less while you were studying for finals, right?

Also, there are a lot of distractions at my house. I combat these distractions in two ways.

1.) Take my laptop to Starbux

2.) Take my typical distractions (knitting, video games, whatever floats your boat) and store them in a box or a tupperware bin in the basement. This gives me fewer things to do with my hands.

Also: shut the phone off! My cellphone is my number one distraction; with texting, words with friends, face book, phone calls, and I emails I can distract myself with that device for hours.

Bufty
01-25-2012, 09:26 PM
Working at a faster pace is not the same as organising one's time.

It's a question of priorities.

If one is a professional writer I assume the writing is treated as a job and fixed time slots allocated for 'working'.

Personal circumstances will vary enormously between writers. A single unmarried person may not approach the allocation of time aspect in the same way as a married man with family.

skydragon
01-25-2012, 09:36 PM
I think you just need to allocate time to write everyday, even if that means you have to sacrifice something else - like watching TV or surfing the net.

I usually disconnect my internet when I'm writing so I'm not tempted to hop onto my e-mail account or other websites.

Take a notepad with you wherever you go. You never know when you'll have to wait around for something, and you could kill time by working on whatever writing project you have going.

gothicangel
01-25-2012, 09:56 PM
It is possible. I'm not married, but I have a job and study.

So today's schedule went something like.

2:30, Finish work.

3-5pm, Study

6-7pm, Set time aside to complete important job application.

7-10pm, Write.

Billycourty
01-25-2012, 10:04 PM
Remember you can reherse your writing in your head. Laying in bed before I sleep, I will go over the chapter I am going into. Visulize the scenes and test ideas.
It can be scary because you think you will forget something genius but my characters have taught me that they know their story, that we are just trying to learn to listen and reproduce it.
So you will not forget anything that is real or important.
If you do, the Characters will remind you.

Bufty
01-25-2012, 10:12 PM
Have you got threads mixed up, Billy?

CalebJMalcom
01-25-2012, 11:24 PM
I'm a horrid person when it comes to structure and I get really distracted easily and to top it all off I tend to rebel against structure even structure I place on myself. So I make it more loose and fluid. As long as I can fit some writing in somewhere in the day (lunch time, as soon as get home, before bed) I feel I've made a step forward and those little victories make me happy. I also make sure I let myself be distracted because if I don't let myself then I get a backlog of wanting to be distracted and then nothing gets accomplished. I guess it's all about balance for me. Just letting all the different crazies in my head have their turn.

dangerousbill
01-25-2012, 11:26 PM
How do you guys fit writing time into your schedules? How do you avoid getting distracted?

You get brutal.

If you have a job, no one questions when you get up in the morning, get dressed, and leave. They don't say, 'but there's a good TV program I want to watch with you' or 'go get a gallon of milk from the store' or 'but Aunt Minnie is coming over to visit'. Your time is structured, and people respect that.

But since you're just sitting there playing on your computer or staring out the window, everybody thinks that your time is theirs to interrupt or co-opt at their whim.

You have to say, "All right, troops. The hours from 6 am to 10 am are mine. Anyone who interrupts me between those hours will spend the night chained to a post in the yard. No explanations. No excuses."

And mean it.

It works both ways. Since you've threatened everyone else, you'll now feel obliged to actually spend that time writing, rather than playing video games or cruising AW.

(I'm only partly exaggerating. People know how sharp my teeth are, but they keep trying to interrupt me anyway.)

randi.lee
01-25-2012, 11:35 PM
You get brutal.

If you have a job, no one questions when you get up in the morning, get dressed, and leave. They don't say, 'but there's a good TV program I want to watch with you' or 'go get a gallon of milk from the store' or 'but Aunt Minnie is coming over to visit'. Your time is structured, and people respect that.

But since you're just sitting there playing on your computer or staring out the window, everybody thinks that your time is theirs to interrupt or co-opt at their whim.

You have to say, "All right, troops. The hours from 6 am to 10 am are mine. Anyone who interrupts me between those hours will spend the night chained to a post in the yard. No explanations. No excuses."

And mean it.

(I'm only partly exaggerating. People know how sharp my teeth are, but they keep trying to interrupt me anyway.)

Fully agreed. Just because you're home doesn't mean you're not working. Be firm with people. Tell them you're busy and what you're doing is extremely import.

And remind yourself what you're doing (writing) is extremely important to you. I have a friend who wants nothing more than to be a writer... though every time I ask her what she's doing she's either watching a movie, going shopping, etc. You can be your own roadblock as well- keep an eye out for that.

BethS
01-25-2012, 11:36 PM
You get brutal.



Unfortunately, this is true. At some point, it comes down setting priorities and sitting in the chair.

sickmuse
01-25-2012, 11:41 PM
I don't necessarily write every single day. I tend to do better devoting 1-3 days of nothing but writing, so I try to prioritize my academic life so I have at least one day without homework each week. I don't always succeed, but I usually manage to do okay.

Hip-Hop-a-potamus
01-26-2012, 12:13 AM
For me, it's Starbucks in the morning when I have a job. The last contract I had was awful because it was all the way on the other side of town, and the commute really cut into my writing time. Next job I take is at least going to be on the same side of the river.

I'm unemployed right now, so I'm pretty much putting in 6-8 hours a day editing (I'm so close to being done I can taste it, after 2 years). I'd put in more, but my MS can really wear me out in a hurry if I'm not careful.

Now I begin the query polishing and researching agents on Querytracker.

Shadow_Ferret
01-26-2012, 12:25 AM
What's this real life of which you speak?

Billycourty
01-26-2012, 10:12 AM
Have you got threads mixed up, Billy?

No, I was explaining how I find more time to 'write' when I don't have time.

SaronaNalia
01-26-2012, 11:18 AM
Some of these suggestions make a lot of sense. I live in a one room apartment with my boyfriend, so privacy is limited, and closing a door isn't really an option. Some of you have mentioned leaving the house to write, and I think that might be a nice solution for me. I think next week I'll try spending an hour after class every day at a café and see how that works out.

Kitty27
01-26-2012, 11:48 AM
I am very serious about certain things. Like keeping my hair done and dressing in a proper manner. I treat writing the same way.

My writing time is an appointment that must be kept. No exceptions allowed unless my kids are sick. If I am not feeling well,I don't write. Other than that,I am at my computer every day.

To be blunt,I don't muck about when it comes to writing. I make the time. If it means sitting up at two in the morning,I do it.

If it means telling friends and family that I can't be disturbed unless Tupac has risen from the grave and asked for his #1 fan(ME!!!!!) or a truly dire emergency,I do it.

I work two jobs so my time is very limited. I have planned my writing time down to the last minute. Make a schedule and stick to it. Treat your writing like the serious business that it is and plan your time accordingly.

Stijn Hommes
01-26-2012, 11:59 AM
Before, I wrote whenever I had time and was in the mood. Now, I'm certain that if I'm going to be a real writer, I need to be working at a much faster pace. You already used whatever time you could before. By assuming you have to write more, you are only blocking yourself from being productive.

You only have to write more if you believe the "rule" that you have to write a certain number of words every day. Unless you have to write an article with a deadline, no such rule exists. If you write everything ahead of submitting, only last edits will be on a deadline. You can still write first drafts at your own pace.

Becky Black
01-26-2012, 02:22 PM
There's no alternative but to give up some things that you do now to make the time to write. You can't stretch the time available in the day, and I'm sure you don't have a couple of hours a day where you're twiddling your thumbs and looking for something to do. So you have to find the things you can sacrifice, the time sucks. TV and gaming can be big ones that steal hours of time. I've never been a gamer luckily, but watched TV. Now I barely do any more. What I do watch I usually prefer to watch on DVD or catch-up services, so I can fit it around my writing schedule, not the other way around. Plus I'm not wasting time watching commercials. I find commercials entirely insufferable now.

There are lots of little time wasting things that can be eliminated too. I do a weekly meal plan so I'm more efficient in the kitchen and shopping (not to mention don't have to think about that stuff when I could be thinking about writing instead.)

You have to decide your priorities. Examine your daily life for a month or so and see what you can stop doing or do more efficiently. I am disgustingly organised about everything, with my calendar and To Do list running my life, to give me more time to write and more time to think about my writing.

Hip-Hop-a-potamus
01-26-2012, 04:40 PM
You already used whatever time you could before. By assuming you have to write more, you are only blocking yourself from being productive.

You only have to write more if you believe the "rule" that you have to write a certain number of words every day. Unless you have to write an article with a deadline, no such rule exists. If you write everything ahead of submitting, only last edits will be on a deadline. You can still write first drafts at your own pace.

She said when she had time AND was in the mood. Most of us write whether we're in the mood or not-- its one of the first steps to really getting serious about writing.

I don't have to have a certain number of words each day, but I do write every day. That certainly makes a person more productive. Yeah, they're first drafts, but first drafts can always be edited. If you do them "at your own pace" they may never get done.

Mark Moore
01-26-2012, 06:08 PM
I have a part-time job as a cashier (soon to be replaced by another part-time job as a cashier but with more hours than the average 15 per week that I'm getting now). I have a huge backlog of DVDs to watch. There are a few TV series throughout the week that I picked up this season (Once Upon a Time, Pan Am, Ringer, Revenge). I play video games (Final Fantasy XIII-2 comes out in 5 days, yay!). I have a huge backlog of old VHS tapes to look through and convert what I want to DVD-Rs. I fan-edit movies. I have to do chores as mom decrees. I read Archie Comics. I write fanfics. I watch Internet videos.

Where do I find the time to write my original stories?

*Charlie's Angels was canceled.

*I gave up my video game reviews series last year, because it felt like a chore.

So, yeah, I write. There's no particular schedule, but I've managed to complete a "first draft" (it's really just one "draft" that keeps evolving until it reaches its final form) of my first story in a little over a month. I'm gonna tinker with it for a while longer before e-publishing it.

Jamesaritchie
01-26-2012, 06:13 PM
You have to make writing part of your "real" life, and you do whatever it takes to make this happen.

I think it was Stephen King who said "A writer needs a room with a door, and the willingness to close it." It's true.

You also need the willingness to make certain everyone around you knows that when you close that door, you're to be left strictly alone.

pyrosama
01-26-2012, 06:15 PM
If I could do nothing but write, I would be happy. I do have bills to pay, though. I don't write everyday, but when I do write, it's usually because I have something to write about. I don't go more than a week without making a blog entry.

I'm involved in a writing group and am taking an online writing course, so it seems that I'm always writing or thinking about writing these days.

I'd say to write when it strikes you to write, and don't beat yourself up over it unless you're getting paid to write and you have a deadline fast approaching! :)

readitnweep
01-26-2012, 07:41 PM
The honest answer is that it's a conscious decision. I have three kids, with three different schedules plus my own, but I write when I can. I make time for it, the same as I do with reading. When I worked full time, I got up two hours earlier (4am) just to get in writing time. I write in waiting rooms, at wrestling practice and, very often, on my lap in my car.

CrastersBabies
01-26-2012, 08:03 PM
2 jobs here.
Ph.D. student.
Mother of a 4 year old.
Wife.

I still find time to (for the most part) get at least 1000 words in a day. 1000 words is not much. Some days simply do not make that possible, like today. Thursdays? First meeting at 10:30, second at 11:30. Third at noon. Work until 5:30. Attend classes from 5:45 until 7:15. Home. Pass out. But, I have gotten a few things slammed out (usually) by the end of the day. Doodles in my notebook. A paragraph. Again, it all adds up.

Learn to type fast.

As posted on another thread, I learned how to write in smaller chunks. A paragraph at a time, a sentence. It all adds up at the end of the day. I keep a journal/notebook with me at all times. I have a laptop that is super portable.

I still manage to get enough sleep, have time w/my family, have time for work, homework and writing. It's just a matter of wanting it so bad that you squeeze the time in whenever you can.

Dr.Gonzo
01-26-2012, 08:21 PM
I agree with the scary baby. I can knock out 1K in no time. 600 words while the missus watches Gok? No problem. 500 words on my lunch break? Easy. Add a line, add to it, he needs to say this, they need to say that.... Sometimes I'll do 2K without even realising I've been writing.

I used to make a big deal about it. I'd prepare. I'd have my writing station. I'd pace. I'd crack my knuckles ready for the 'serious business'. Now I just fucking write. Put some words on that paper without feeling the need to spare drop a chunk of my day for it. I don't need to. I do, but I don't have to.

Hilldawg
01-26-2012, 08:33 PM
How do you guys fit writing time into your schedules? How do you avoid getting distracted?

I also find this challenging and have come from a similar situation as yourself. I have not, as of yet, found the best solution. So, perhaps I'm talking out of my rearend here, but here's what I feel is vitally important: set big goals for yourself and then break them down into minigoals. Think about the time you think it will take to complete the minigoals and then think about the time you have to give towards achieving them. Set up a schedule that has a little flex (so you won't get all bent out of shape when things inevitably do happen) and then go for it.

Hill

Anjasa
01-26-2012, 09:46 PM
I could only imagine the crap I'd spew if I wrote when I wasn't in the mood...

My entire life revolves around my moods, and structure doesn't work very well for me. Luckily I really enjoy writing and spent the majority of the days at least doing some of it.

ladyleeona
01-27-2012, 12:42 AM
Though I have been writing for most of my life, I have only recently started to take myself seriously. I'm having a hard time learning to balance my writing with everything else in my life. Before, I wrote whenever I had time and was in the mood. Now, I'm certain that if I'm going to be a real writer, I need to be working at a much faster pace.

How do you guys fit writing time into your schedules? How do you avoid getting distracted?

Right now I'm on a 6 week novel-writing-hiatus. Self inflicted. I have this terribly boring thesis I'm trying to write, and given the choice between novel or thesis.... Yeah, suffice to say my hybrid zones don't stand much of a chance.

Normally, I write whenever I have a chance. And I mean that--sometimes it's at 3am, other times I find 30 minutes around lunch. It never feels like I'm making that much headway, but in a few months that horrible novel I've been working on is done. I'm like the most distractable (it's a word today) person on the planet, so staying focused is a challenge. When I find my attention wandering, I remind myself of the big picture. If I don't finish the first draft, I can't edit. If I can't edit and submit, I can't publish.

I want to be published--if I never finish the damn thing, that'll never happen. :Shrug:

Richard White
01-27-2012, 01:33 AM
It's a balance. At this point and time in my life, there is no "I must write from 8-10", mainly because I'm not always home from 8-10.

I work full time (40-42 hours a week), go to graduate school (2.5 hours/2 nights a week), do Kendo (2.5 hours/1-2 nights a week), and also attempt to spend time with my wife and daughter.

Oh yeah, sleep. Sleep is optional up to a point, but a good thing to consider once and a while.

Writing becomes a work-it-in thing as well as a weekend thing. Was I more productive before I started grad school? Well, sure. But, that was the choice I made in going to grad school.

What it becomes is a balance. I don't want to give up Kendo because it's the only physical activity I get a week. School is for two and a half more years and I'm not giving up my family and somehow the mortgage has to get paid. Writing, while something I'm enjoying doing, is the thing easiest moved around because it doesn't have a fixed schedule like everything else does.

Yet, it gets done.

Namatu
01-27-2012, 03:40 AM
I can't write every day, and when I do write, it doesn't always amount to much. I used to vow, "I will write today!" and have great expectations. Then I'd feel awful when I couldn't get to it, and by couldn't I mean actually could not, and not got lazy or distracted. What's worked for me is lowering my expectations. I aim to write nearly every day, but now I'm happy to write a paragraph. It's amazing what relieving myself of those higher expectations has done for my productivity. No matter how many words I write, it's positive and not a disappointment because I didn't meet my words per day goal.

Find out what will work best for you and your writing and do that.

Bubastes
01-27-2012, 05:25 PM
I could only imagine the crap I'd spew if I wrote when I wasn't in the mood...


You'd be surprised at how little mood corresponds with writing quality. When I review my drafts, I can't tell which parts I wrote when I was vs. wasn't in the mood.

scarletpeaches
01-27-2012, 05:27 PM
I could only imagine the crap I'd spew if I wrote when I wasn't in the mood...I can only imagine how little I'd write if I only wrote when I was in the mood.

bearilou
01-28-2012, 08:29 PM
You'd be surprised at how little mood corresponds with writing quality. When I review my drafts, I can't tell which parts I wrote when I was vs. wasn't in the mood.


I can only imagine how little I'd write if I only wrote when I was in the mood.

Both requoted for truth.

To the OP: comes down to experimentation as well. Some people are more productive in the mornings; some crank it out over their lunch; a few mentioned writing in small increments of time they steal through the day. Some have to go to bed early and so they are up early to grab their time. Some like to sleep in at the last possible moment and therefore get their writing in before heading to bed.

I am not a morning person. I hate getting up in the mornings. My most productive time? You guessed it: morning. I suck it up, set my alarm for 5:30 to be ready to start writing at 6 and write until 9. In keeping track of my times of writing and word output, early mornings have turned out to be my best timeframe to get writing done.

adarkfox
01-31-2012, 04:11 AM
I have a toddler at home and a husband who is only home on the weekends... after she goes to bed is my writing time every night, so I get 1-2 hours to myself.

I have one night a week that me and a writing buddy stay up almost all night, switching our 'what we wrote so far' every hour... it makes me accountable and I typically get 3-5000k written on Thursdays.

Filigree
01-31-2012, 05:07 AM
Hey, whatever works. I'm fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to be doing freelance work right now, so my schedule is my own. But paying gigs take first priority, so I don't always have the luxury of uninterrupted hours to write. I certainly don't allow my mood to dictate when I can write. If I have a spare moment, I plug into the story and go. Like Bubastes, I can't tell later which parts were written under 'inspiration' and which were slogged through until the passion sparked.

Anjasa
01-31-2012, 06:14 AM
Well, when I said 'not in the mood' I typically mean 'sick or depressed', and I've had to throw out the vast majority because most of what I come up with then is filled with plot holes, inconsistencies, or just glaring errors that aren't even fixable in editing.

cmi0616
01-31-2012, 06:34 AM
I've never gotten the whole "I don't have time to write" thing. I worked for an hour a night for 8 months. The end result was a full-length 90,000 word novel. Sometimes, yes, it meant staying up till 1 or 2 in the morning on weeknights. But truth be told, you don't need a lot of time to write even a long work. You just need dedication and to really make writing a priority in your day-to-day. If you don't have an hour to yourself every night, then you should really think about making some different lifestyle choices. If you stay up to a certain hour of the night (which, in my house, was around 11 PM), everyone else will have fallen asleep and there will be no distractions.