Some writers are lucky enough to be a full time writer. But even writers who write full time as their job have other priorities like family, errands, housework etc. And for those of us who still have a part time or full time job on top of our writing careers, sometimes it seems impossible to juggle everything and still find time to write.
The first thing that helps me balance my full time job and my writing is prioritization. Do I have any deadlines? Projects that need to be turned into a publisher, editor, agent, or even a blog I try to prioritize first. Next I look at my self-imposed deadlines. I’m very goal oriented so saying I want to finish a manuscript edit or drafting something by a certain date usually helps me prioritize things as well.
Sometimes you have to follow the muse. Sometimes your brain is clogged for some reason and won’t let you work on that deadline project. It’s okay to take a break and work on something that’s really speaking to you. Follow those thoughts for a little bit then come back to your deadline. Sometimes that time away helps clarify why the deadline project isn’t flowing and gives you some new perspective.
Another thing that helps me keep moving forward with my writing projects is having set writing time. Once a week I meet up with local writers and we sit at a coffee shop and we write. Sure we talk and share ideas and talk through plot bunnies, but we also write. That’s my guaranteed writing time, and I very rarely let anything trample that time. It’s mine and no one else can have it.
It also helps to realize that just because you aren’t writing words on the page doesn’t mean you aren’t writing. You may not be drafting a new manuscript, but writing an outline, brainstorming, world building, working on character development, editing, thinking about your story and what’s working vs not all counts as writing. Just because the word count in your manuscript doesn’t go up (or even if it drops) doesn’t mean you aren’t writing. All these things contribute to the success of the end product.
And last but not least, give yourself a break. You can’t do it all. Any progress should be celebrated. It’s not easy to work then come home and sit down to write something. Some days it’ll be there and other days it won’t. If you have to skip a day because the words aren’t coming or you really want to do something else, that’s okay. Your brain needs down time just as much as it needs active writing time.
So that’s my list. What other things help you as a writer stay focused on the task while trying to balance life, a job, family and other things?