Thursday, October 22, 2015

Truth: Grad School Cuts Down your Writing Time

Well, the title pretty much says it all, right? Don't cry for me yet--I'm loving my Master's program in English.  I mean, who wouldn't? I get to go to class and workshop writing and analyze Renaissance poetry and write term papers and...

...ok, yes, plenty of people wouldn't and I may be bonkers.  In any case, I am managing to balance work, school, family, and writing pretty well, excepting this pore ol' neglected blog.

So how to keep writing when your time is suddenly monopolized by a new venture--whether that be a new job, a new baby, a new move, a new just about anything?

1) Keep up the old habits that you can.  One of my "good habits" is setting aside large segments of writing time when I can by planning for it and literally penciling it into my datebook. (Subhint: Have a datebook.)  If I have a free Saturday, I arrange for The Husband to watch The Tiny and I run away for a while.

This is my precious. I mean planner.  I mean spiral-bound sanity.


2) Accept adjusting the habits you can't keep up.  Maybe you were writing every day and that just isn't going to happen anymore.  It's easy to get bogged down on a "right" way of writing, and so many authors tout "write every day" as "the" method that busy people can feel very discouraged.  I'll tell you what--I can get as much done in a weekly writing binge as I can writing every day.  Not everyone is like me, but find what works for you and your schedule and make that happen instead of mourning what can't happen.

3) Accept a downgrade in productivity.  Be honest with yourself about how many hours you actually have in a day.  And accept that writing anything is much better than writing nothing.

4) Don't be precious. I've said it before, I'll say it again--use the time you have without setting useless limits for yourself like "I need to have my playlist" or "I have to have my cup of tea first" or "I need to be home alone."  Maybe you work better with those things, and that's fine. If they're easy to procure, like popping in earbuds, do it.  If they're not, muscle through without.  Don't let a lack of tea or music prevent you from taking advantage of an unexpected free hour--and it gets easier to be opportunistic with practice. If you can scratch down a few paragraphs, that's a few paragraphs you didn't have before.

5) This too shall pass.  I get a regular reminder of this--with the academic calendar, my schedule changes literally every few months.  Plus, I get a few weeks here and there with no classes and no work, when I make like a writing camel and stock up on time for the long haul ahead.  But even if you're not on a regular change-o-matic like that, you can remember that everything changes.  If this is a time when it's easy to be productive, take advantage! Love it! Learn all you can about how you write to benefit you in the tougher time-crunch times.  And if it's a tricky time to make writing happen, remember that change is coming--maybe around the corner, maybe further down the line.  Persevere.